The Federal Election Commission (FEC) Fails To Rule

Yesterday The Independent Journal Review posted an article about vacancies on the Federal Election Commission and the consequences of those vacancies.

The article reports:

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is facing a lawsuit for its inaction on a complaint filed against Hillary Clinton‘s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

The right-leaning Coolidge Reagan Foundation filed a lawsuit — obtained exclusively by IJR — on Wednesday morning in the hopes of getting a ruling that would force the FEC to address the complaint it filed on August 1, 2018.

Its original complaint with the FEC requested an investigation into Hillary for America — the official name of Clinton’s campaign — and the DNC for their role in obtaining and financing the anti-Donald Trump dossier penned by former British spy Christopher Steele.

By law, if the FEC does not rule on a filed complaint within 120 days, the party that filed the complaint has the authority to sue the commission. Almost 300 days have passed since the Coolidge Reagan Foundation filed that original complaint, and nothing has happened.

The exact incident that caused the Foundation to sue is explained in the article:

The original FEC complaint alleged that Hillary for America and the DNC breached campaign finance law by issuing a false report with the intention of misleading the American people. The complaint notes that campaign expenditure forms show that the DNC and Hillary for American paid their mutual legal advisers at Perkins Coie, LLP for “legal services,” but the law firm turned around and paid Fusion GPS for the Steele dossier.

The Coolidge Reagan Foundation argues that Hillary for America and the DNC used Perkins Coie, LLP as a “strawman” organization to distance themselves from Fusion GPS and Steele and submitted a false FEC complaint in the process:

The FEC is composed of six members. Right now there are two vacant seats on the Commission. The seats on the Commission are supposed to be filled two at a time–one by the President and one by the highest ranking Senator from the opposite party. As of now, Senator Schumer has not submitted a name, so the President cannot proceed with a nominee. Since FEC rules require four votes in order to begin an investigation, unless there is a unanimous vote by the four current commissioners, nothing will happen.

The article further notes:

As IJR previously reported, the Coolidge Reagan Foundation also filed an FEC complaint against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and her chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti, for their sketchy campaign funding operation and for failing to disclose payments to congresswoman’s boyfriend.

According to Backer, neither of those complaints have received a ruling from the FEC.

It’s a fairly safe bet that if an FEC complaint were filed against a Republican, Senator Schumer would very quickly come up with a name so that the investigation could move forward!

Campaign Finance Violations On Steroids

Yesterday The Washington Examiner posted an article about some campaign finance violations by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s chief of staff, Saikat Chakrabarti. The violations listed are not minor violations, there are some major amounts of money involved here.

The article reports:

Two political action committees founded by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s top aide funneled over $1 million in political donations into two of his own private companies, according to a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission on Monday.

…The arrangement skirted reporting requirements and may have violated the $5,000 limit on contributions from federal PACs to candidates, according to the complaint filed by the National Legal and Policy Center, a government watchdog group.

Campaign finance attorneys described the arrangement as “really weird” and an indication “there’s something amiss.” They said there was no way of telling where the political donations went — meaning they could have been pocketed or used by the company to pay for off-the-books campaign operations.

PACs are required to disclose how and when funds are spent, including for expenditures such as advertisements, fundraising emails, donations to candidates, and payments for events and to vendors.

The private companies to which Chakrabarti transferred the money from the PACs are not subject to these requirements.

Please follow the link above to read the entire article for the details.

This is interesting for a number of reasons. Was it a rookie mistake or was it planned corruption? Is this coming out now because AOC has become a problem for the Democrats–she is so far left that she may cost them votes in 2020?

The article concludes:

Bradley A. Smith, a former chairman of the FEC, said he has never seen such an arrangement. “It’s a really weird situation,” he said. “I see almost no way that you can do that without it being at least a reporting violation, quite likely a violation of the contribution limits. You might say from a campaign finance angle that the LLC was essentially operating as an unregistered committee.”

Chakrabarti declined to comment on the FEC complaint or provide details about his companies’ financial activities. Corbin Trent, a spokesman for Ocasio-Cortez, declined to comment.

Zeynab Day, communications director for the Brand New Congress PAC, said Chakrabarti was not currently affiliated with the group and that it recently went through a “transition period.” She referred questions about the LLC to Chakrabarti. “I’m unable to answer any questions about the LLC … I am not informed about them. We are not an affiliated group,” she said.

A spokesperson for Justice Democrats said he did not know why the PAC paid so much money to Chakrabarti’s LLCs. When asked what the Justice Democrats PAC does on a daily basis, he said, “It’s very clear what we do,” but declined to elaborate.

Chakrabarti founded Brand New Congress PAC, in April 2016. According to a statement released by Justice Democrats PAC last May, Chakrabarti “was the only controlling member” of the company Brand New Congress LLC and “took no salary.” The statement added: “Saikat is lucky to have a small side business that generates him enough income that he is able to do all of this work as a volunteer.”

If this story is accurately reported, it is bound to get more interesting!

A Tale Told By An Idiot, Full Of Sound And Fury, Signifying Nothing

I’m sure you recognize the above quote from Shakespeare’s Macbeth. It also pretty much describes the investigation carried out by Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller. What started out with many people convinced that Russia interfered in our election has now boiled down to the fact that President Trump paid some women he behaved badly with to keep quiet. Wow. Talk about a downward slide.

Mark Penn, who formerly served as an advisor to President Clinton, posted an article at The Hill yesterday which illustrates some of Robert Mueller’s mendacity.

The article reports:

I’m experiencing 1998 déjà vu as prosecutors once again work overtime to turn extramarital affairs and the efforts to keep them secret into impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors. Unable to get the witnesses to compose the stories they want, today’s prosecutors are discovering they can simply compose the crimes by manipulating the pleas of men desperate to protect their families.

The Michael Cohen sentencing memo took aim directly at both Cohen and President Donald Trump. It was used, unethically, to cast the president as directing a criminal conspiracy to make “secret and illegal” payments. Sentencing memos are not supposed to use secret grand jury info to point fingers at those who are not being sentenced, but that’s exactly what these did.

One can say today that these New York prosecutors, acolytes of fired U.S. District Attorney Preet Bharra, have learned that the “plea’s the thing wherein to catch the king.” First, they went after the man, not the crime, and turned up millions in unpaid taxes and some bank-loan misrepresentations by Cohen. At that point, they convinced him to cave for the sake of his family; the trick was to get him to plead guilty to supposedly two campaign finance “felonies,” and then vaguely implicate the president as directing them (which Trump denies).

Despite promises to the contrary from prosecutors, they threw their star witness off the bus anyway, making him the biggest chump in this drama after he hired attorney Lanny Davis and burned all his bridges with his former client. Once they had the guilty pleas in hand, the prosecutors no longer needed Cohen; they trashed him as a greedy liar and called for substantial jail time.

The reason these two guilty pleas were so valuable is that these prosecutors could not, in my opinion, have gotten them in court. The first payment was not even made by Cohen but by American Media Inc., a bona fide media company with First Amendment protections; it could have decided to use the story that it bought, hold the story, or just prevent some competitor from using the story.

The article cites the legal precedent for the fact that a payment to a mistress or a publication is not a campaign contribution:

Perhaps the biggest difference between oppo research and paying for nondisclosure of an affair is that one is definitely a campaign expense and the other is a personal expense not covered by election law. When prosecutors brought a similar case against former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.), they failed to get a conviction and it came out that FEC auditors had determined that the payments from donors to his mistress were not a campaign expense at all.

The article also points out that the typical remedy for a campaign finance violation is a fine–not indictment or impeachment. This charade is getting very old. Robert Mueller has been a man in search of a crime. He felt as if he already had the guilty party in his sights, he just needed to find the crime. Just for the record, that is not how the American justice system is supposed to work.

Campaign Financing

When the Citizens United case was decided by the Supreme Court, a howl went up from Democratic politicians. “Take the money out of politics,” they said. “This will open the floodgates for corporations to buy elections.”

I have posted charts from opensecrets.org before. These charts show that the top spenders (before and after Citizens United) are still the unions. No one is talking about taking away the right of unions to donate to campaigns. Also, keep in mind that the people who pay union dues and provide the money for the donations don’t have a say in where the money is donated. At least the leaders of a corporation that donates to a PAC are accountable to their stockholders. The fact that government employee unions give political donations is also a bit questionable–they donate to the people they are going to negotiate contracts with. Is it possible to do that without a conflict of interest?

Any, here is one of the charts from opensecrets.org:

campaigndonationsSo why am I mentioning this? First of all, I firmly believe that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. If unions are allowed to make campaign donations, corporations should also be allowed to make campaign donations. If you want to eliminate one, take them both away. Otherwise, you are creating an unbalanced situation where the government is suppressing free speech.

The National Review is reporting today that according to the Hillary Clinton emails, Mrs. Clinton was planning to reverse the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United as soon as possible.

The article reports:

Although President Obama came out swinging against the decision during his State of the Union address a few day later — prompting some Justices to boycott future speeches — Clinton remained largely silent on the issue for years. She didn’t openly declare her opposition to Citizens United until April 2015, after she’d already announced her candidacy. In May, she said she’d use opposition to Citizens United as a litmus test for any Supreme Court nominee.

The Ready for Hillary Super PAC — founded under the new Citizens United rules — raised $15 million for the Clinton campaign before it was disbanded early this summer following her presidential announcement.

Mrs. Clinton’s emails to Sidney Blumenthal show a desire to overturn the Citizens United decision, yet she was willing to take advantage of the law up until the time she ran for President. She disbanded the PAC before any low-information voters would learn about it. Also, there is the question of the money flowing through the Clinton Foundation that might have made the PAC unnecessary. Remember that most of the Clintons travel expenses are paid through the Foundation, and a large part of campaigning is travel. That may or may not be illegal, but it is questionable at best. The hypocrisy is amazing.

 

It Really Is Time For Harry Reid (And Most Of The Rest Of The Senate) To Go

Yesterday the Washington Examiner reported that the Senate has made plans to accomplish something when it returns from recess. They are not planning to take up the immigration bill the House of Representatives just passed, they are not planning to deal with America‘s deficit spending in any way, and they are not planning to deal with any of the bills the House of Representatives has sent them to encourage job growth. So, what are they planning on dealing with first thing when they get back from vacation? They want to make sure that the Republicans can’t raise campaign contributions from corporations the way Democrats raise campaign contributions from unions.

The article reports on S.J. Res. 19, which seeks to undo the Supreme Court‘s 2010 Citizens United decision:

The Supreme Court said in its decision that political contributions are protected under the First Amendment.

However, the proposed amendment, which was authored by Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., not only gives Congress the power to limit spending on federal candidates, but it also bars the judicial branch from overturning any future campaign finance laws authored by legislative branch.

Other than the obvious problem with priorities, the Senate is planning on limiting the actions of the Supreme Court. I believe that would be unconstitutional. We have three separate but equal branches of government. The Senate does not control the actions of the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, we are being overrun by illegal immigrants on our southern border. The young children are bringing diseases, and the older children are joining violent Latin American gangs already here. Americans (particularly those on our southern border) have been negatively impacted by the invasion. Wouldn’t you think the Senate might consider that more important than protecting Democrat fund raising?

 

Never Put Anything In An Email That You Don’t Want To Be Made Public

Today’s Washington Times posted an article about some emails from Lois Lerner that have been released by the House committee investigating the IRS. The emails seem to show that the IRS specifically targeted Tea Party and conservative groups in 2011 in the run-up to the 2012 election.

There are a number of emails that are detailed in the article:

“Tea Party Matter very dangerous,” Ms. Lerner said in the 2011 email, saying that those applications could end up being the “vehicle to go to court” to get more clarity on a 2010 Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance rules.

…“It is what it is,” she said in the email, released Thursday by the Ways and Means Committee. “Although the original story isn’t as pretty as we’d like, once we learned this [sic.] were off track, we have done what we can to change the process, better educate our staff and move the cases. So, we will get dinged, but we took steps before the ‘dinging’ to make things better and we have written procedures.”

That email suggests agency employees knew they had gone overboard in their scrutiny — despite top IRS officials telling Congress that there wasn’t any special scrutiny of conservative groups.

Needless to say, the Democrats on the investigating committee are claiming that there was no targeting of conservative groups. I suspect that there will be more hearings in the near future.

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