Saturday, August 26, 2006

'The dog ate my PAC money'

It's hard to predict what the State Elections Board will do Wednesday about the massive amounts of special interest money Congressman Mark Green laundered into his governor's campaign through a legal loophole, which has since been closed.

The board's attorney, George Dunst,has written a memo that says the Green campaign is in compliance with the law:
Dunst said in the memo that the money in question was raised by Green as a member of Congress and therefore not counted under the limit for candidates for governor. The clock on counting contributions for Green's race for governor started on Jan. 1, 2005, Dunst said.

Wisconsin has no law that counts money raised in one campaign as donations received for another when it is carried over, Dunst said.
However, Green didn't move any of the federal money into his governor's account until Jan. 25, 2005 -- after the clock had started. And he didn't carry over the money, he moved it into a brand new state campaign account.

Sometimes the board takes Dunst's advice, and sometimes it goes in entirely the opposite direction.(Some critics, when he disagrees with them, say the "t" in his name should be silent. But when he agrees with them, he's a genius.)

My guess is that this time the board will give Green a pass. He transferred $1.3-million in contributions from his federal House campaign to his state campaign for governor. But a new rule, which took effect last Dec. 1, will forbid others from doing the same thing in the future. Given that he's the last one to use the loophole, the board will probably let it go, even though that will allow him to raise almost twice as much special interest PAC money as Jim Doyle.


The worst thing in Dunst's memo was the suggestion that the board couldn't enforce PAC limits anyway because Green has probably already spent the money. The amount in question is $468,000.

It's an argument politicians use when they don't want to do the right thing and return a tainted contribution. Green and Congressman Paul Ryan both used that song and dance about PAC money they'd gotten from Tom DeLay. But Green eventually found a way to dispose of the dirty $30,000.

As long as Green has more than $468,000 in his account -- which he does -- it's hard to argue that he already spent the money. On June 30, he had $3.1-million in the bank.

I suppose there could be a first-in, first-out theory, which says the first dollar you spend is the first one that you received. But I've never seen that principle argued by Green's campaign or any other.

There may be other, legal reasons to say Green can do what he did. But "I already spent the money" should not be one of them.

It ranks right up there with "The dog ate my homework."


At 12:19 PM, Blogger jody said...

That's some memo -
My idea of a memo is "pick up more envelopes, reschedule meeting"

I've gotten the impression now that The W.E.B. doesn't routinely scan finance reports for things that look odd. That someone has to make a formal complaint/accusation in order for any thing to be cleared up. And from your post it's clear that like any other aspect of any law anywhere - there's still plenty of wiggle room and discretion on the part of any deciding body.

Those factors make many situations not really worth pursuing, don't you think? Too many watchdog institutions seem to be sleeping, or without much bite. Leaving a "wrong-doer" to do a sickening victory dance, apparently truly beleiving that the finding of a loophole means lily-white vindication. That's of course very far from being true - you can be guilty as sin and evade consequences.
In the end voters will only think of Mark Green as the "extremely good Dad" who wants to cut pork anyway.

At 3:31 PM, Blogger CMCE Reformer said...

Live with it! Green is an expert at laundering money and so is Doyle. The bad news is that one of them is probably going to get elected governor (unless we suceed in getting Eisman into the debates). Then these guys are going to have to answer some tough questions.

At 1:15 PM, Blogger jody said...

I'm confused - what do you mean "Live with it", and why? Of course realisitically I have to "live with it" as I have no delusions about my own grandeur or personal ability to affect change. I'm not always sure that blogging does any good and most of the time I feel if my IQ was a few points higher I'd quit.

But "live with it" implies peaceful acceptance of Bullshit - sorry, not gonna happen. And there is something in your tone that also imples "YOU, Madam Citizen, are responsible, somehow by default, for the current state of affairs. I'd (almost) pay cash to see a schematic of the convoluted logic that lead you to that conclusion.

My own concern on this issue is surprisingly not about your Mr. Eisman, but rather how it relates, on a much smaller scale, to a local "problem" that I and others perceive with campaign finance "confusions" and my frustration at the likely inability to get a firm answer from anyone on those issues. Finance issuues that center around a candidate for the 31st Senate district - Kathleen Vinehout.

I'm somewhat disturbed about that, I care about a small-time local campaign being clean, scrupulously and obviously. It should all make sense to the Average Guy.

Interestingly, I have a pal who is a Green Party loyalist. Really nice guy, always takes the high road. Smart too. Realizes that the WAY he talks impacts the message itself. He never adopts that pissy attitude like you just did, the attitude that I suspect, has turned away more than one Green Party possible member. It's overly hostile and not excessively germane to the issue. I like the word "gratuitous", I use it as often as I can. That was gratuitous.

At 2:39 AM, Blogger CMCE Reformer said...

Mine was a snide reflection on the fact that we have a corrupt political system and until the people start throwing out the trash it will remain corrupt. I am not "living with it" as can be seen by my web site advocacy effort below.

I am also not a Green party member so I don't want to saddle them with my views. But I have strongly supported the inclusion of its gubernatoral candidate in the debates (see

Jack Lohman


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