"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Romney Campaign and Super PAC in Violation of the FEC?

Romney and his Super PAC share top aides and they see nothing wrong?  Figures out of Romney who believes that he can do anything he wants to get the nomination whether it is ethical or not.  It is more important that he win then follow the rules:
Despite all the crossover, the groups can make a legal argument that the shared operatives don’t amount to forbidden coordination because staffers erected a mental barrier between work done for each. 
“It comes down to showing they provided material or information from the campaign that was used for ads. How do you do that?”asked Mr. Wertheimer
Information about campaign ads isn't hard to find as Romney's Super PAC used an ad from the 2008 failed Romney campaign about a missing teenager.  Why did the Super PAC release this ad instead of the campaign?  Is Romney's campaign running short of money to run such an ad?  Legitimate questions with no answers.

Romney decides to go 'scorched earth' and along comes his Super PAC doing just that.  Larry McCarthy, the one responsible for the Willie Horton ad, is being used by the the Romney Super PAC, Restore Our Future, to attack ads on other candidates.  The man responsible for the Willie Horton ad for Bush 41 is involved with the Super PAC attack ads for Romney.  Imagine that.  McCarthy and the word ethics should never be used in the same sentence as he will never be noted for his ethics.  Only thing he knows is attack politics from everything that has been seen first for Bush 41 and now for the Romney Super PAC.  The Horton ad was against Dukakis but his attacks ads today are against fellow Republicans.  Romney and his Super PAC have sunk to a new low.

Then there is the problem with using front companies to shield payments to people which should be against every FEC regulation there is if we still have an active FEC:

But a watchdog group said both the Romney campaign and the super PAC’s practice of using companies to shield payments to people violates campaign-finance law.

There is not much ethical about the Romney campaign but he wants to be President?   But then he considers corporations people even when they are set up for the purpose of helping his campaign and really are just a front.  Doesn't seem very ethical to most people but then it is Romney and he is supposed to be above criticism just like Obama.
Romney camp, super PAC share high-level aides
Companies used as payment conduits
By Luke Rosiak-
The Washington Times Sunday, February 26, 2012 
Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign and the super PAC accepting million-dollar contributions to support him are barred by law from coordinating, yet they share many of the same top-level workers, a fact both groups have helped mask by paying high-level aides through companies that appear to exist largely as conduits to avoid disclosure. 
Months before a top Romney aide, Steve C. Roche, stopped working for the campaign, a company controlled by Mr. Roche was established and has since been paid $2 million by the super PAC, with a million-dollar check coming just three days after the last money publicly disbursed to him by the campaign, a Washington Times review of campaign expenditure records showed. 
Another consulting firm has done hundreds of thousands of dollars of work for both the campaign and the super PAC, with the most recent payment from the campaign coming the same day as the first from the super PAC. Still other companies, some doing work for the campaign and others for the PAC, are based at the same address. 
The groups said they have done nothing wrong because staffers are careful not to use anything they learn in working for one group to the other’s advantage. 
But a watchdog group said both the Romney campaign and the super PAC’s practice of using companies to shield payments to people violates campaign-finance law. 
Though Mr. Roche was regional finance director for the Romney campaign through the summer, in April a cryptically named limited liability company, Podium Capital Group LLC, was established in Delaware taking steps that hide its creator’s identity, incorporation records show. 
The super PAC disclosed paying $1 million for “fundraising services” to Podium on Aug. 4, listing as its address a post office box in Beverly, Mass. 
The super PAC, Restore Our Future, acknowledged to The Times that Podium is “Roche’s company.” 
The Romney campaign says it is careful to follow the law; but a review of the records shows that its interpretation relies on a remarkably strict and hard-to-demonstrate definition of “coordination.” 
“It seems like this was an overall plan involving both the campaign and the super PAC” that spanned months, said Fred Wertheimer, executive director of Democracy 21, a campaign ethics watchdog, of Mr. Roche’s transition. With high-ranking operatives from the campaign heading the independent group, he noted, there was much less need to communicate with current campaign staffers. 
‘Travel reimbursement’ 
Any gap between Mr. Roche’s tenure as a campaign official and his super PAC work lasted days at most. Mr. Roche received checks from the campaign as recently as Aug. 1 for “travel reimbursement.” But the Romney campaign declined to say when he left, and the exact dates of his compensation are not discernible in campaign records because fundraisers were paid through another company, SJZ LLC, named after Mr. Romney’s national finance director, Spencer J. Zwick
“People hire consulting firms all the time to do campaign work for them, but this appears to be a deliberate effort to mask the actual recipient of the money and therefore circumvent disclosure laws,” Mr. Wertheimer said. “It comes down to, is this a real company?” 
There is no record of Podium’s existence outside of the single Delaware filing. It has no physical address, and it has never done work for any other political group. Mr. Roche did not respond to requests for comment. 
It was unclear why high-level operatives with official campaign titles were being paid only indirectly through SJZ, or why, if the campaign contracted with a firm for services, it was separately reimbursing that firm’s workers for expenses. Except for some general-election work it did in 2008 after Mr. Romney abandoned his presidential bid, the SJZ entity has not worked for any non-Romney campaign, Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show. 
The Times review shows that the Romney super PAC’s accounting practices used corporations as conduits for payments instead of named employees. During the campaign, Mr. Romney has said that “corporations are people, my friends.” 
Excerpt:  Washington Times
The Times took at look at the funding of Romney's Super PAC and how they operate.  Must have given the investigators a headache.  When you can look at FEC records and see major problems, you know there is going to be even more in a campaign.  Is this what McCain was referencing about a Super PAC who was going to be in trouble.  Why he endorsed Romney is what many of us are waiting to find out.  After he endorsed, the opposition research against Romney was released most believe from his campaign.  Think if I was a candidate who trashed McCain in the past, I would rather not have his endorsement.

The question of the day is whether the FEC is going to get some backbone and go after Romney's Super PAC and frankly they should include his campaign PAC as well in any investigation.  Something smells big time, but will the FEC finally get involved and start handing out major fines?  Time will tell but since it is a Republican, they probably will investigate.

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