Sunday, July 29, 2012

It should be an active third party expenditure year

...I don't mean that the Libertarians, Greens, or some other party will experience significant electoral success, but that there will be a *lot* of "third party" spending to influence elections (meaning spending from non-candidate and non-political party groups).  And not just at the federal level, either (which is what this post is about).

There have been a large number of new state-level committees formed this year to serve as conduits for election-influencing money.  A sampling, with filer ID number (for now, I'm only looking at committees with filer IDs issued in 2012, and leaning toward those that have reported accepting/expending money, though there will be exceptions to that) -

PACs -

Arizona Entrepreneurs, 201200147, chaired by Meredith Munger, who appears to be an operative for the AZGOP.  No candidate-focused expenditures reported as yet.    

Arizona Leadership Fund, 201200486, chaired by Doug Ducey, Arizona's state treasurer.  Just speculating here, but it looks like something set up to provide cover for him to dole out money to GOP candidates/buy supporters for a 2014 reelection run/possible run for governor.  Not illegal (so far as I know); not even terribly unethical.  Just not terribly subtle, either.  No non-operational expenditures/disbursements reported as yet.

Arizona Liberty Project LLC, 201200104, chaired by Mark Spinks, a former Congressional candidate and indecent exposer.  Has already given money to candidates Steve Smith, Steve Montenegro, and Russell Pearce, R wingers one and all.

Arizona Project PC, 201200242, chaired by Debra McGrew, who appears to be a tea party-type.  No non-operational expenditures/disbursements reported as yet.

arizona teachers association, 201200416, chaired by John Jay Hedgepath.  No expenditures reported as yet, but already infamous - it turns out this "teachers association" doesn't include people who are "teachers" by the normal definition of the word (you know, the definition that includes a classroom).  Possibly formed to serve as a front group for Russell Pearce.

Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck Arizona PAC, 201200148.  It's a law firm's PAC, chaired by Janna Day, an attorney with the firm, and "treasurered" (is that even a word?  :) ) by Michael Preston Green, a widely-known AZ lobbyist/legal hired gun.  They've already doled out thousands of dollars in contributions to office holders and candidates.  The recipients of their largesse are mostly Republicans, though a few corpora-Dems are on the list, too.

Healthcare Professionals for American Rights, 201200415.  No expenditures reported as yet, but it was created on the same day as the "arizona teachers association" above, by the same two people.  Don't expect authentic "healthcare professionals" to be involved with this; do expect pro-Russell Pearce snipes and press releases.

People's Rights, 201200459, chaired by Peter Bayardi, who apparently is a tea-party type.  No expenditures reported as yet.

Southern Arizona Conservative PAC, 201200522, chaired by Donald Woolley.  Some activity, but the most interesting is a two-step where the committee accepted money from State Sen. Frank Antenori's constituent services account and then turned around and made contributions to Antenori's failed campaign for Congress (June 30th report).  There was also a transfer from Antenori's federal committee to the state-level PAC.

There may be a couple of "oopsies" here.

1.  None of the available reports from Antenori's constituent services account shows the expenditures.  They should.  If a nickel is spent on a piece of penny candy (what can I say?  Inflation has taken its toll :), it must be tracked and reported.

2.  State law covering officeholder accounts.

From ARS 41-133 -

F. An officeholder shall not transfer officeholder account monies to any other account or committee except for another officeholder account for that same officeholder.

Not a lot of wiggle room with "shall not transfer".

There are also questions about the transfers of funds between a state-level PAC and a federal campaign committee.  It is allowable under certain, limited, circumstances, but I'm not sure if this is one of them or not.  I have an email out to the FEC, and will update when/if they reply.

Update on 30 July -

Christian Hilland, a spokesperson for the FEC, replied to my emailed inquiry by pointing out some possibly applicable areas of the FEC's rules:

Page 52 of the FEC's Campaign Guide for Congressional Candidates and Committees:

Non-Campaign Related Expenses
Campaign funds may be used for the following purposes that are not related to the candidate’s campaign for federal office:

• Unlimited transfers to any national, state or local party committee. 113.2(c).

• Donations to state and local candidates, subject to the provisions of state law.

Page 61 of the FEC's Campaign Guide for Congressional Candidates and Committees:

Transfers from Candidate’s Nonfederal Committee Are Prohibited
A candidate’s authorized (federal) committee may not accept funds or assets transferred from a committee established by the same candidate for a nonfederal election campaign. At its option, however, a nonfederal committee of the same candidate may refund its leftover funds to its contributors and may coordinate arrangements with the federal campaign for a solicitation of those same persons. The full cost of this solicitation must be paid by the federal committee. 110.3(d). See also AO 1996-33.

I'm not sure, and perhaps one of the attorneys in the AZ blogosphere, will add their knowledge and experience to this discussion, but these sections don't seem to apply directly to the situation here, at least not entirely.  They do seem to allow the transfer of federal money to state-level committees under certain circumstances, but I don't think that this situation is quite covered by these sections.

However, the transfer of $295.44, with a memo "date of contribution" of March 6, 2012, was not reported on his Congressional committee's "pre-special election" report which covered that period of time, or in the "July Quarterly" report, which covered the period including May 17, 2012, the date of the entry in the receiving PAC's report.  The two contributions *from* the state-level PAC *to* the Congressional campaign were reported, however.

This stuff doesn't actually clear up much, but it's a start.

In the event the above two links don't work to bring up the reports, go to this FEC search page, and input the name "Antenori".  On the next page, select C00500926.  After that, select the appropriate report.

End update...

Southwest Solutions, 201200457, formed by the same people on the same as "People's Rights", above.  No expenditures reported as yet.

Veterans Against Losing Our Republic (V.A.L.O.R.), 201200538.  The organizers are a tea-party type and a Republican former candidate for the lege.  No expenditures reported as yet.

Vote No Arizona, 201200392.  Not sure what they want us to vote "no" on, but since one of the organizers is a tea-party type, they're probably against anything that would benefit Arizona.  No expenditures reported as yet.

Independent expenditure committees -

Arizona Deserves The Best, 201200063.  This one was formed by GOP "consultant" Constantin Querard to funnel money to Russell Pearce during the recall election last year.  Through May 31 of this year, they don't report any expenditures on 2012 races, but it's still early.  And Pearce is in some desperate straits in his campaign to return to the legislature.

Arizona Voter Education Fund, 201200584.  Chaired by Max Fose, a GOP operative/former McCain staffer.  Just guessing here, but something tells me that this would be better named the "Arizona Voter Mis-education Fund".  The committee is so new that no reports have been filed yet.

Arizonans for An Honest Government, 201200583. Chaired by one Floyd Brown, who the guiding light behind a faux journalism (and stridently anti-Obama and anti-Democraticwebsite.  No reports filed as yet.

Coalition for Freedom and Prosperity, 201200152.  Chaired by one Jeff Smith of Gilbert, who I think is the same Jeff Smith who has tried to mount a primary challenge to Jeff Flake, attacking Flake from the right (not exact a lot of room to work with to the right of Flake).  I'm not sure because his name serves as spectacularly poor search terms.  :)

Look for many more such committees to spring up between now and the elections.


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