Friday, September 16, 2005

Interesting Observations: Campaign Finance Reports in the 52nd

Well, the reports for the period ending August 31 are now available, and I’ve noticed some interesting things either present or absent from the candidates’ filings. First, the totals: Frederick -   Raised: $131,103       Available: $202,961 Barg -          Raised: $71,115         Available: $168,868 Nice advantage for Jeff, both in terms of fundraising for the period and for total cash available going forward. Now, for the interesting observations: First, on the Barg front, our friend Riley recently brought our attention to a potential scandal regarding the PWEA and the use of the teachers’ courier system to distribute its literature supporting Hilda. Not good. In his post, he calls on Prince William Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert to launch an investigation into this, particularly the culpability of the Barg campaign. Well, interestingly enough, Mr. Ebert made a $1,000 contribution to Ms. Barg’s campaign on 8/12. That makes a total of $1,500 that he has contributed to Hilda during this campaign. Now, I like Paul Ebert and think he does a fine job. But does anyone really think that he’s going to launch an investigation into this thing? At best, he could launch an investigation but then recuse himself due to the obvious conflict of interest. Unless someone really presses on this, my guess is that it just goes away. But it does beg an important question: Should someone in Ebert’s position make contributions to a campaign over which his office has jurisdiction? Speaking of an issue just going away (or never going anywhere, for that matter), Mr. Frederick has an interesting reporting concern of his own. On 4/19, he had a fundraiser in DC featuring none other than Tom “The Hammer” DeLay. It sounds like it was a reasonably successful event: Jeff lists contributions over $100 of $8,850 on the same day. Not bad. What is interesting is that his reports list no expenses or in-kind contributions for the event. That’s not exactly fair, there was an expense listed on the same date of $152. For copier toner. That’s it. No food or any other event expenses. Now, are we supposed to believe that the guests ate campaign literature? I may be relatively new to the campaign scene, but I find that unlikely. This “oversight” was pointed out briefly on the blogs at the time, but the issue has never gained any traction and no amended report has ever been filed. I’m very surprised that the Barg campaign hasn’t pressed on this. There may not be any wrong-doing here, in fact there probably isn’t. But it is at least an opportunity to tie Frederick closer to DeLay, who isn’t the most popular political figure around these days.

7 Comments:

At 9/16/2005 03:01:00 PM, Anonymous NoVA Scout said...

I wondered what the hell that bluish-black powdery stuff was they were serving on Ritz crackers. Man, it tasted awful and stained my lips and mouth for weeks. I kept eating it thinking it would get better. Tom DeLay was just shovelling it down. I thought maybe it was some Texas thing that really cool conservatives ate out there. Well, I don't think we ate $152 worth, but toner is pretty expensive these days.

 
At 9/16/2005 05:24:00 PM, Blogger Riley, Not O'Reilly said...

FYI, the PWEA story isn't over yet, either. I've been contacted by an elected official in PWC regarding this, so there might be more coming down the pike soon.

 
At 9/16/2005 06:08:00 PM, Blogger Mitch Cumstein said...

Riley:

Nor should it be over. The PWEA has no business using the courier system for something like this. I don't begrudge them the right to support a specific candidate, but using a taxpayer-sponsored service to do so is wrong and should be investigated.

 
At 9/16/2005 10:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Candidates should not use taxpayer sponsored services to distribute their messages... EVER. Not even the United States Postal Service!

 
At 9/18/2005 11:00:00 PM, Blogger MR JMS said...

Anon,

They themselves have to pay to use the postal service. Nice try.

 
At 9/20/2005 09:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Fredrick's finance report, see here: http://www.virginia-elections.blogspot.com.

 
At 9/20/2005 09:57:00 AM, Blogger Mitch Cumstein said...

OK. There was indeed an "Event Expense" of $344.06" paid to American Express on 5/17. There is nothing to indicate what event this was for, nor is there anything to indicate who provided the service. American Express certainly did not provide any services, other than to be used as a clearinghouse to pay the service provider. I have a serious problem with this kind of reporting. If you're going to use a credit card, such as AmEx, to pay for campaign expenses, you must itemize that payment to the credit card company. So, we don't know that those "event expenses" were infact related to the DeLay fundraiser, nor do we have any idea who the actual payee was.

Simply paying the monthly bill doesn't cut it. Maybe there was only one charge and it was for the DeLay event. The problem is, we, as voters, have no idea whether this is the case or not.

My point from the beginning has been this: It's a questionable situation that could use some clarification. I am not accusing Jeff, nor will I accuse him, of any intentional wrong-doing. The issue here is as much the failure of his opponent to question it and use it as it is an indictment of Frederick.

As to the staffing issue? It didn't come from me and, quite frankly, I haven't really given it much thought.

 

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