Friday, 10 September 2010

Has Joe Miller violated FEC campaign finance laws? The Republicans in Delaware would most likely agree with this statement!

By micmac and Patrick

Joe Miller is portraying himself as some sort of under-funded candidate nearly independent of ‘outsider’ money.

Twelve days before the primary, his website made this statement:

From The Trenches: “Our home grown, volunteer campaign is still operating on a shoestring budget with absolutely nothing going to waste. If your resources will permit it, one more donation may make all the difference in the world in these final few days.”

After the primary, he continued the distortion that somehow his victory was primarily (forgive the pun) Alaska-born and based:

“Joe Miller and his homegrown base of supporters have beaten the odds and achieved another victory for the conservative movement by securing the Republican nomination for Senate.”

Just recently, an email marked “Paid for Joe Miller for US Senate” was published in an article in Huffington Post entitled “Joe Miller Funded by God and K Street”:

“In order for Joe to keep campaigning he needs funds. So far the Lord has always provided the money in this grass roots campaign, and this time God is going to use you to provide!
It cost a lot of money to run a clean campaign and we all know that Joe's campaign isn't receiving any monies from corporations or from out of State entities.”

You might almost believe good old Joe if all you read was his official FEC campaign finance report. For example, his pre-primary report (7/1 – 8/4) – the one he was late in filing – indeed appears to support his claims:

According to Page 3 of the report, no contributions from PACs during this period and only $5000 from PACs during the election cycle have been made. Apart from a handful of notably large and notably ‘out-of-state’ contributors, the majority of Receipts do come from Alaskans.


Screenshot Joe Miller for US Senate - pre-primary report - title

Screenshot Joe Miller for US Senate - pre-primary report - contributions - RED

The Disbursements section starts on Page 25 and are relatively modest.

(Note: You can access all filed reports by Joe Miller HERE).

But this report by "Joe Miller for U.S. Senate" contains some major omissions.

Nowhere reflected in the Joe Miller For US Senate (C00482117) official FEC pre-primary report is the $587,729 he received from the Tea Party Express PAC “Our Country Deserves Better.” But it is right there, in black and white, in the OCDB’s FEC Campaign Finance Reports.

During the same time period reflected in the Joe Miller for US Senate Pre-Primary Report (7/1-8/4, filed on 8/12) wherein he states he received no PAC money, the "Our Country Deserves Better PAC -" report tells a different story:

The disbursements on behalf of Joe Miller, clearly marked as benefiting him, begin on Page 1142 with a $15,000 expenditure to “Creative Culcha” located in Granite Bay, CA.

And continue to accumulate in the aggregate amount of over $115,500 for this time period, mostly to Tea Party Express operative Russo & Marsh - although in his own FEC report, "Joe Miller for U.S. Senate" claimed to have received no PAC money at all!

Screenshot Tea Party PAC - title - pre primary report 2010

Screenshot Tea Party PAC - details contributions Joe Miller - RED

According to Joe Miller's filed reports, he received ZERO dollars of PAC money during this time period - despite the fact that the Tea Party Express noted expenditures of more than $ 115,500 for Joe Miller.

Adding to the mix all of the 48 hour contributions after that date (8/5 forward), the final amount of the expenditures by the Tea Party Express PAC for Joe Miller comes to: $587,729.

You, Dear Reader, do not even have to do the math. You can find the total amount provided right in the PAC record on the last 48 Hour Report dated 8/26. They have kept a running total for you per election cycle/per candidate, at the bottom of each box. The last one is dated 8/24.


Tea Party Express - total for Joe Miller

But wait, there is more "outside money" - which the Joe Miller campaign apparently did not receive, according to their newsletter cited above.

In the filed documents, you can find additional “48 Hour Contributions” on the Joe Miller for US Senate FEC report for the period of 8/10 through 8/23:

$9600 from the Honeycutts of LA
$2000 from Rowan in PA
$2400 from Brooks in WA
$5000 via vote cager Washington Intelligence Bureau “for” Freedoms Defense Fund and Veterans for Victory Pac
$9600 from the Dudenhefers in LA
$1000 from Southern Media in GUAM (!)

That’s $29,600 in addition to the nearly $600,000 he already raked in from the Tea Party Express.

And some of these “48 Hour” entities are among the notably large and notably ‘out-of-state’ contributors referenced above in his Pre-Primary Report, so these are not their only donations.

The most significant contributor(s) in the “48 Hour” reports are Washington Intelligence Bureau’s donations “for” the Freedoms Defense Fund and Veterans For Victory PAC. The WIB is a well-known ‘vote-cager’ – vote caging is primarily used by the Republicans to disenfranchise voters should election results turn out to be ‘close.’

All of this certainly makes one wonder how many other PACs made expenditures on Joe Miller’s behalf - that will never show up on his own FEC reports.

Therefore it can safely be concluded that Joe Miller distributed a dishonest statement in his fundraising email quoted above.


In addition, the question has to be asked whether Joe Miller violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) as the recipient of the nearly $ 600,000 from the Tea Party Express.

The short answer is: YES - if you follow the reasoning of the Republican Party of Delaware.

Today it was reported that the Republican Party of Delaware, which strongly supports Christine O'Donnells opponent Mike Castle, filed an FEC complaint against Tea Party Express candidate Christine O'Donnell (who just today received her endorsement by Sarah Palin).

The Republicans are accusing Christine O'Donnell of running an "illegal scheme" to coordinate donations with the Tea Party Express .

If you look at the complaint, it is obvious that the facts are basically identical with the situation in Alaska - which is not very surprising, because the Tea Party Express (read the details about this organization at sourcewatch) currently supports three candidates in particular: Christine O'Donnell, Joe Miller and Sharron Angle.

Tea Party Express Website - candidates

The general legal situation is the following regarding a possible violation of the FECA:

When an interest group, union, or corporation wants to contribute to federal candidates or parties, it must do so through a PAC. These PACs receive and raise money from a "restricted class," generally consisting of managers and shareholders in the case of a corporation, and members in the case of a union or other interest group. The PAC may then make donations to political campaigns. PACs and individuals are the only entities allowed to contribute funds to candidates for federal office. Contributions from corporate or labor union treasuries are illegal, though they may sponsor a PAC and provide financial support for its administration and fundraising. Overall, PACs account for less than thirty percent of total contributions in U.S. Congressional races, and considerably less in presidential races.
Contributions by individuals to federal PACs are limited to $5,000 per year. Corporations and unions may not contribute directly to federal PACs, though they may pay for the administrative costs of a PAC affiliated with the specific corporation or union. Corporate-affiliated PACs may only solicit contributions from executives, shareholders, and their families, while union-affiliated PACs may only solicit contributions from members. "Independent" PACs not affiliated with a corporation, union, or trade or membership association may solicit contributions from the general public but must pay their operating costs from these regulated contributions.
Federal multi-candidate PACs are limited in the amount of money they can contribute to candidate campaigns or other organizations:
at most $5,000 per candidate per election. Elections such as primaries, general elections and special elections are counted separately.
at most $15,000 per political party per year.
at most $5,000 per PAC per year.
Under federal law, PACs are not limited in their ability to spend money independently of a candidate campaign. This may include expenditures on activities in support of (or against) a candidate, as long as they are not coordinated with the candidate.

Therefore Joe Miller received much, much more than the $ 5,000 which is allowed by the FECA.

From a legal point of view, it all comes down to the following question: Were the expenditures "coordinated" between the Tea Party Express PAC and the Joe Miller campaign?

The Republicans in Delaware have of course more inside information, but I would be extremely surprised if there were any significant differences in executing the strategy of the Tea Party Express in Delaware and in Alaska.

The Republicans in Delaware assert: YES, the expenditures between Christine O'Donnell and the Tea Party Express were coordinated.

In our view it seems extremely likely that the facts of the case are very similar or even identical. We assume that the Tea Party Express had the same "modus operandi" for supporting Joe Miller in Alaska, as they have for Christine O'Donnell in Delaware - in public and behind the scenes.

As it's the case in Delaware, the Tea Party Express launched several TV- and radio-adverts on behalf of Joe Miller, for example:

If you read the legal opinion of the lawyers for the Republican Party of Delaware, it does seem that Joe Miller could be in huge trouble as well:

Castle Screenshots 1

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It's great to see that the Republicans in Delaware make a stand against the poisonous influence of the Koch Brothers, whose organizations finance the Tea Party Express and who attempt to manipulate Republican politics.

We hope that the Republicans and perhaps also the Democrats in Alaska will follow that example!


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