Partisan Democrat

Thursday, August 31, 2006

I am Shocked, SHOCKED to find Another Republican Breaking the Law

Again.

There's a pretty damning Topinka Watch, if it's accurate, about how the Topinka campaign's last campaign finance report (the one filed in July covering the first half of this year) is full of violations in every section.

I know, shocking.

But this looks pretty bad. I've been reading through campaign finance law (jealous?) to try and figure out if this is legit, and it appears to be. Here's what the Topinka Watch says:


Topinka failed to meet the basic requirements of current campaign finance law on a report she filed last month which was loaded with violations in every section of the report. One month has passed and Topinka’s campaign has yet to amend her report to fix multiple violations of election law. Some of the violations include hiding payroll expenses for the month of June, and failing to find critical information on over 80 donors and improperly reporting of expenditures such as payments made directly to Judy Baar Topinka, in violation of rules for expenditure of that type.


And here's the specifics of what they're alledging:


Topinka neglected to disclose the employer and occupation information for over 80 individual donors who gave over $500. The Blagojevich campaign performed a quick search of these ‘missing’ donors and found many of them in under an hour using the procedures that the State Board of Elections says the Topinka campaign was required to follow in the first place.

Topinka also failed to follow the proper procedure for disclosing expenditures such as media buys, production expenses, and expense reimbursements for almost 80 expenditures in direct violation of board rules. Even payments made directly to Judy Baar Topinka are in violation of the rules for expenditures of that type.

And Topinka failed to disclose any debt, even though it is clear that at minimum she should have disclosed at least $60,000 in payroll that was due but not paid in June.

Let's take the easy one first, the debt. If you don't pay your bills you need to show that as debt. It's pretty straightforward. If you look at her expenditures and look at all the people she has on payroll (a lot btw) none of them got a paycheck for the whole month of June. It seems pretty simple to me.

Next let's do the contributions. If people give more than $500 you are supposed to list their employer and occuption. Well, more accurately, you are supposed to "make a good faith effort" to find and report that information. I looked through her contributions and she definitely has a ton of missing employer/occupations, I don't know if it's the 80 they're claiming but it easily could be. According to the Topinka Watch, "the Blagojevich campaign performed a quick search of these ‘missing’ donors and found many of them in under an hour using the procedures that the State Board of Elections says the Topinka campaign was required to follow in the first place." I think they are referring to this, where it defines good faith effort:

Section 100.160 "Good Faith"
a) For purposes of this Section, "contributor" includes the terms "lender" and "endorser". A committee actsin good faith under 10 ILCS 5/9-11, 9-12, 9-13, and 9-14 if:

1) its written solicitation for funds includes a clear written request for the name of the contributor's employer and the occupation of the contributor;

2) in the event it receives a contribution lacking the name of the contributor's employer and occupation of the contributor in circumstances where such information is required, it makes at least one effort to obtain the missing information; and

3) in the event its request for information is unanswered, the committee includes in its report thebest and most current information it may have from whatever source, including its own records and earlier reports, about the name of the contributor's employer and the occupation of the contributor.

They must have looked up other reports and found these people.

Then there's the expenses. Here's what the Topinka Watch says, "Topinka also failed to follow the proper procedure for disclosing expenditures such as media buys, production expenses, and expense reimbursements for almost 80 expenditures in direct violation of board rules." That has to be this rule:

c) An expenditure to a payee who is in whole or in part only a conduit for payment to another, such as a political consultant or a credit card issuer, must include by way of detail or separate entry the amount of funds passing to each vendor, business entity or person to receive funds from the payment, together with the reason for each disbursement and the beneficiary of the disbursement. Nothing in this Section shall be construed to impose a reporting obligation on any person not otherwise required to report under Article 9 of the Election Code or to require the itemization of expenditures not otherwise required to be itemized under Article 9 of the Election Code.

She's got a ton of expenses listed as reimbursements and so forth.

Maybe I'm missing something but it seems pretty clear to me. I don't know what the State Board of Elections is going to do about it, but it's had to argue that they aren't violating the law. I love this quote at the end:

“These are just the violations that we know about,” added Nix. “What else is she hiding, and why after misleading the public by filing a report full of violations has she not filed any amendments to fix her report? At best this represents sloppy and incomplete work; at worst it is a deliberate intent to mislead the voters. Illinois deserves better than that.”


It will be interesting to see what happenes and if the press picks this up.


UPDATE: Capitol Fax has something on this already.

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