Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Mr. Walker, we have a few questions...

Remember the flap when Scott Walker's campaign for governor held a fundraiser that included tickets to a corporate suite for a Badger basketball game?

All sorts of questions were asked -- and only some were answered -- about whether Walker was accepting illegal corporate contributions.

Walker claimed he ended up not using the suite, although it had been donated. There were conflicting stories from Walker's campaign about what actually happened. He later dropped out of the race.

Now, Madison's WKOW-TV News, which covered the story extensively in February, says Walker's campaign has failed to report the ticket donation in its just-filed campaign finance report:
No Record of Walker B-Ball Tickets

Former Gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker's campaign finance report includes no mention of the donation of prime tickets to a sold out, February Badger basketball game which were used as part of a fundraiser for Walker.

Invitations to the Feb. 15 game between Wisconsin and Ohio State at the Kohl Center stated a courtside seat could be had for a minimum campaign donation to Walker of $2000. The fundraising invitation said "second ring seats" were available for a $1000 donation. The invitation stated seven tickets in premium arena locations were available to donors.

In February, Walker campaign manager Bruce Pfaff refused to identify who donated the tickets, but pledged the value of the tickets and their donors would be disclosed in required state reports.

Receipt of in-kind campaign contributions such as tickets to sporting events or access to luxury boxes is required to be disclosed in campaign finance reports.

A 27 News review of Walker's campaign finance report for the period between January 1 and June 30 shows no record of in-kind contributions of tickets to the game...

The Walker campaign official who prepared the report, John Hiller, has not returned a call from 27 News...

In February, chairman of Madison-based Musicnotes.com, Tim Reiland told 27 News he had donated courtside Kohl Center seats for the fundraiser.

Reiland also told 27 News he separately made a direct contribution to the Walker campaign.

The campaign finance report lists a $2500 contribution from Reiland on March 3. No in-kind contributions of tickets are attributed to Reiland.
There's another unresolved question hanging over from Walker's failed gubernatorial bid -- what to do with contributions of more than $3,000, which is the limit for a candidate for county executive.

Michael Horne reported in March:
"There is internal disagreement on this issue," says George Dunst, the legal counsel for the State of Wisconsin Elections Board.

He says that some of the staff feel Walker could close his campaign books at the end of the 2006 general election and roll over all of Walker's remaining funds "to any future race," whether local or statewide.

However there are those, including Dunst, who believe Walker may not use all of the sums he received in the governor's campaign in a future county executive race, since some of the contributions he received were in amounts larger than the $3,000 threshold for that position. [Individuals may donate up to $10,000 total to any candidate for governor, per election cycle.]

By this analysis, there may be more than $100,000 in Walker's campaign treasury that he would be forbidden to spend on his future campaigns for non-statewide office.
Perhaps, while the board is considering whether Mark Green's transfer of hundreds of thousands of dollars in political action committee contributions is legal, the board could look at the huge loophole Walker's campaign may exploit.

If Walker is allowed to use the excess money, and local candidate could form a committee for state office -- with much higher contribution limits -- raise a ton of money, and then decide not to run, having fattened his/her campaign account with money that wouldn't be legal otherwise.

If the Elections Board needs a complaint before it will act on the question, someone ought to file it.

UPDATE: Walker admits failure to report donations.


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