Thursday, November 02, 2006

Register story on Senator Slush Fund

Senator Lieberman's undocumented use of hundreds of thousands dollars as "petty cash" is examined in this article in today's New Haven Register:
Lamont files an FEC complaint over Lieberman’s expenditure of petty cash
Mary E. O’Leary, Register Topics Editor 11/02/2006

A review of the use of consultant services by Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman’s campaign, which in turn dispensed large amounts of petty cash, raises questions about the practice.

Lieberman’s Democratic opponent, Ned Lamont, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission over the $387,000 in petty cash the senator spent in the waning days before the August Democratic primary.

Political committees may make expenditures of not more than $100 to any person or for a transaction out of the petty cash fund and are required to keep a written journal documenting the payments.
By the way, this is exactly how "street money" is distributed.

The Senator himself wouldn't stand outside the voting place, handing people twenty dollar bills; his campaign would hire a local "election consultant" to distribute the cash to people in exchange for their vote.

There's no concrete proof yet that Senator Lieberman's campaign has engaged in this tactic.
The campaign has said it is under no legal obligation to release the journal and has no plans to do so. Lieberman also said their attorney has assured him that they have done nothing illegal.
Of course not. They are keeping their journal private because it's filled with questionable entries about payments, or they're buying time to produce a "new" journal.

It's obvious the FEC won't be able to act on a warrant to have Lieberman release the journal until AFTER the election. The campaign is hoping for a Lieberman win, and a Republican-controlled Senate, and then maybe they'll quickly pass a law stating that large, undocumented expenditures of petty cash IS legal.
But interviews with some of the people who were brought in to help get out the vote for the campaign in the two weeks before the hotly contested Aug. 8 primary described situations that appear to be at odds with some campaign finance requirements.

At least one man who was hired as a consultant, Tomas Reyes of Oxford, said he has yet to be asked by the campaign to turn over material for the journal, which would justify expenditures of $8,250.

The FEC requires the treasurer of the political committee to keep a written journal of all disbursements out of petty cash, including names, addresses, dates and purposes.

The campaign failed to make campaign manager Sherry Brown available for an interview on the campaign report and the status of the journal. Treasurer Lynn Fusco also failed to return phone calls seeking comment.
Nothing looks more guilty than not addressing charges like this. What are you hiding, Sherry? Worried about keeping your butt out of jail, Lynn?
Also, Reyes and another man, Daryl Brooks of New Haven, who ran a consultant service, said they each got one check from the campaign for their services, but they are listed in the third quarter campaign finance report as getting two checks, for a total of twice what the men said they received.

The report lists Reyes as getting two checks for $8,250, one on Aug. 4 and one on Aug. 15. Brooks received $12,200 on Aug. 11 and another check for the same amount on Aug. 15, according to the Lieberman report. Both men said this was inaccurate.
Whoops, there goes another 12 grand!

Let's see, at twenty bucks a vote, that would equal 600 illegally gained votes for the Senator. Compared to the campaign advertising costs of over $100 per vote received in the primary, that's a pretty good investment. And completely illegal.

The Senator is approaching $20,000,000 in campaign expenses in this election. I wonder how much "petty cash" will be unaccounted for in the final FEC report, due early next year?
Several young men, who were paid $60 a day out of petty cash to canvass in Bridgeport, said they were paid in cash for aggregate earnings over $200.

Rob Dhanda, 18, of Stratford, said he earned $480 in cash over several weeks, while Walter Ruilova, 18, also of Stratford, said his total was an estimated $360 in cash. Ruilova estimated there were about 30 teenagers working out of the Bridgeport office, each earning $60 a day in cash, over a few weeks.

Michelle Ryan, a spokeswoman for the FEC, would not comment on specifics of the Lamont complaint, but said "in terms of itemization, it is required once the aggregate total to a recipient is in excess of $200."
Right there is undeniable evidence of FEC violations. This is just one instance of the ongoing law-breaking that is demonstrated by the Senator's "campaign of corruption".
Lieberman answered an inquiry about releasing the journal, by pointing to his history of compliance with campaign rules.

"I have an unblemished record of compliance with election laws. I always tell my staff at the beginning, whatever you do, just totally follow the law. I’ve never received anything approaching even a fine," the senator said in a recent interview.
By that rational, if you've never been caught committing a crime, that means you can't possibly ever break the law.

This is the kind of reasoning that sank Nixon.
The size of the petty cash involved raised eyebrows with the nonpartisan Public Campaign Action Fund, which asked the campaign to go beyond the legal requirements and disclose the particulars of the expenditures.

"No other senatorial campaign that we know of has ever left undisclosed to the public a sum as large as this," said the fund’s board Chairman Pete MacDowell, in a letter to the senator this week.

He said the issue could impact future elections if the campaign found a new loophole and is setting a precedent "of opening up a serious breach in the campaign finance disclosure laws."
The more we let the politicians slide on these violations, the worse our system of government gets.

Take a stand and fight back.

Vote for a Change. Ned Lamont.


Carter said...

Calling it a "loophole" is putting it mildly. Spending $387,000 in petty cash is more like a giant spinning vortex of doom. It is impossible to imagine this much money being spent over a three month period out petty cash. My petty cash sits in an envelope in my desk drawer and has about $50 bucks in it at any given time. Imagine the shear size of the petty cash envelope Joe needs.

Milford Jim said...

Who paid thei social security etc.?

Anonymous said...

This may be the first straw. stories like these take time, more may be getting ready tp publish.

ifthethunderdontgetya said...

"I’ve never been caught," the senator said in a recent interview.

CT Bob said...

..."It is impossible to imagine this much money being spent over a three month period out petty cash."

Carter, as unbelievable as it is to spend that much in three months, keep in mind the $387K quoted was spent in a TWELVE DAY PERIOD right before the primary!

CT Bob said...

Lieberman is a chicken for not showing up for the debate tonight.

He's a coward, plain and simple. Why else wouldn't he show up? Pussy.