Archive for campaign violations

WI GOP fast-tracks "dark money" bill in midst of "John Doe" campaign finance violations probe

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citizens united check republic Koch brothers dark money

By now you've probably heard of dark money. I've written about it often. It is when nonprofits spend money on elections by exploiting loopholes in campaign finance disclosure laws. In other words, they don't reveal who their donors are, but use their wealth to influence election outcomes by funding "issue ads." Thank you, Citizens United.

Here's how Rachel Maddow described the practice:

...Millions and millions of dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars, that are intentionally made difficult to trace, funneled to networks that build networks that you can disown when you want to, if you want to.

In that particular segment of her show, she was describing how the Koch brothers operate.

Now we get to see how Republican legislators in Wisconsin operate, or as I like to call it, Dark Money Central.

Via PRWatch.org:

A proposed bill that would keep the public in the dark about the sources of money in Wisconsin elections could also make it easier for dark money groups to coordinate with candidates, an issue of particular salience given the ongoing "John Doe" probe into alleged campaign finance violations in the state. [...]

And most importantly, it could open the door to direct candidate coordination with issue ad groups, potentially undermining what remains of Wisconsin campaign finance law. Prosecutors in the John Doe campaign finance probe are reportedly pursuing a theory of illegal coordination between independent "issue ad" groups and the Walker campaign during the 2011-2012 recalls. [...]

Wisconsin courts have held that if a group is coordinating on issue ads with a candidate, their spending -- regardless of whether it includes express advocacy -- can be considered a contribution, which under Wisconsin law encompasses both cash donations and the giving of anything of value.

If those "contributions" exceeded donation limits and were not reported to the state elections board, the group running coordinated issue ads would be violating election law.

And that is the whole reason for the bill. It would change the "political purpose" definition which would also end up changing the interpretation of "candidate contributions."

Nothing new here, just your typical GOP approach: If you can't get what you want honestly and openly, cheat, lie, defraud, slither, smear, steal, and/or hide.

what's the big secret

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Quickie: FBI, DoJ to investigate AZ GOP Senate candidate Jeff Flake over robocall

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Today's Quickie:

AZ Capitol Times is subscription only so I don't have access, but someone sent me the article:

The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice are preparing to open an investigation into Republican U.S. Senate candidate Jeff Flake after a robocall paid for by his campaign directed some Democrats to the wrong polling locations. 

One Scottsdale Democrat said that he'd voted several times at one location, but the call directed him to vote at another one two miles away.

As you can see from the screen grab above, he was featured in a documentary called "How Democracy Works Now." He should have paid more attention.

That was today's Quickie. Was it good for you?

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Paul "Ryan may have improperly used funds raised for his re-election effort in Wisconsin"

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Via Observer.com:

A Politicker examination of federal campaign finance disclosure reports submitted by Paul Ryan’s congressional campaign has uncovered indications Mr. Ryan may have improperly used funds raised for his re-election effort in Wisconsin for presidential campaign activities at the Republican National Convention in August. Mr. Ryan is simultaneously running for re-election in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District and on the GOP presidential ticker with Mitt Romney. At the RNC in Tampa, Mr. Ryan’s House campaign spent over $75,000. However, these convention expenses seem to go far beyond the scope of the activities and staff he had at the RNC for his bid to reclaim his House seat.

One prominent election law expert told us this is a “highly problematic” potential violation of Federal Election Commission regulations regarding candidates running for multiple federal offices.

What? Paul Ryan, part of the upfront, honest, frank, transparent team of Romney-Ryan, did something dishonest? Go on!

Team Ryan gave "a shifting series of explanations including at least one statement that was clearly untrue" to the Observer.

Jerry Goldfeder is an attorney with the law firm of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP who specializes in election and campaign finance law:

“It sounds as if he used congressional campaign funds for national campaign purposes and that’s highly problematic." [...]

[T.J. Helmstetter, a spokesman for the Zerban campaign] also pointed out that Mr. Ryan has faced allegations that his television ads in the race, which do not all specifically mention his congressional campaign, constitute improper use of campaign funds. He said both the issue of the commercials and the RNC spending raise “very important” questions.

Stay tuned.

All the details are here.

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Federal grand jury probes campaign fundraising in GOP Rep. Micahel Grimm’s 2010 campaign

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Above is a video of Rep. Michael Grimm calling for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. That would be the same Affordable Care Act that has already helped so many people even before it fully goes into effect in 2014.

Below is a report from the New York Daily News about a federal grand jury that is looking into allegations of campaign finance violations during Grimm's 2010 campaign:

A federal Brooklyn grand jury is probing alleged fundraising shenanigans in freshman Congressman Michael Grimm’s 2010 campaign, the Daily News has learned.

The FBI's public corruption unit has interviewed at least four campaign workers investigating allegations that the Staten Island Republican accepted illegal campaign contributions, law enforcement sources said.

At least two of those workers have received subpoenas to testify before a grand jury, but both volunteered to answer questions.... Grimm, himself a former FBI agent, has denied any wrongdoing.

Another day, another GOP scandal.

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Oregon Senate Republican candidate fined $29,900 for campaign finance violations

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Another day, another example of RW hypocrisy.

Jim Huffman, the Republican candidate in Oregon's 2010 U.S. Senate race, has been fined by the Federal Election Commission for campaign finance violations involving $1.3 million that his wife made available to his campaign.

Huffman, the former dean of the Lewis & Clark Law School,  agreed along with his wife, Leslie Spencer, and campaign treasurer Lisa Lisker, to pay a $29,900 civil penalty stemming from financial transactions made during his losing race against Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore.

During the campaign, Huffman reported loaning a total of $1.35 million to his campaign but refused to say where the money came from.  The Democratic Party of Oregon later filed a complaint, leading to the investigation by the commission.

As it turned out, a compliance agreement that Huffman, his wife and campaign treasurer reached with the election commission said that all but $50,000 came from Huffman's wife, who is the beneficiary of family trusts worth $7.7 million.

Under federal election law, spouses of a candidate have to observe the same contribution limits as any other individual donor, who in 2010 could give no more than $2,400 to a candidate per election.  A candidate, however, can contribute up to half of joint family assets to his or her own campaign.

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