What's good for the campaign finance goose...

Most campaign finance laws are, in the words of Douglas Adams, a load of dingo's kidneys. But at least for now they are what they are, every candidate knows or should know what they are, and everybody needs to play by the same rules.

It's been suggested to me several times that Scott McInnis probably has similar violations (and perhaps more in quantity since he had more donors) than those violations which cost Dan Maes' campaign $17,500 in penalties (which, by the way, is an insane amount for essentially irrelevant errors.)

The Constitutionalist Today has reached the same conclusion and has actually done some homework which they lay out in an article entitled "Scott McInnis…In All Fairness."

The reporter notes that Scott McInnis had 35 of the same type of reporting error for which 9 instances cost Maes a chunk of change.  She continues:

There are other problems with the report for June. The McInnis campaign had one contribution (from San Francisco) of $2,000, one for $1,500, two for $1,100, and one for $1,107. Legally a single person can only contribute $1,050. These are not simple reporting mistakes, these are real violations and should be thoroughly researched. Remember this is only the report for June and there are four more…wonder what’s in those?

Again, I think most campaign finance laws are an infringement on free speech (although I do support rapid disclosure of contributions, especially individually or in-the-aggregate large contributions).  But we can't have these rules enforced against only one candidate.  If Scott McInnis wins the primary, somebody (with a lot more free time than I have) should indeed consider following up on these questions with the Secretary of State.

One potential benefit from all this:  Just as I thought the judges were stretching the law in ruling against gay marriage bans in Massachusetts in California, I saw a silver lining in that it might remind people of the danger of having government involved in peoples' personal lives.  Similarly, maybe with another politician getting hit with ridiculously large fines, we can persuade the legislature to cap penalties for reporting violations, perhaps so that no violation can cost more than 150% or 200% of the contribution amount it was associated with.

To be clear, my write-up of the story of Dan Maes' violations was not about bashing Maes just for the hell of it or to support campaign finance laws. Rather it was an issue of Maes' competence, which I think is fairly in question in a broader sense.  But once that's been used against one candidate, I think it would be dishonest for those who blogged about it not to ask or report the same sort of potential problem with Maes' opponent, as if Scott McInnis needs any more reasons for people to turn away from him.

Again, I urge my Republican friends not to vote in this primary.

Dan Maes in unqualified and Scott McInnis is disqualified.

(By the way, the Denver Post reported that Scott McInnis has reached a settlement agreement with the Hasan Family.  Don't you just love the image of a sitting governor on an installment plan to pay back a charitable organization he essentially defrauded?  No thanks.)

  • J
    Comment from: J
    08/07/10 @ 03:22:22 pm

    Campaign finance is COMPLETLY complaint driven. There is no regulatory agency. There is no fairness. Whoever has the biggest lawyer and whoever gets in front of the right judge will prevail. Question is, how have Democrats remained spotless? Republicans need to file 100 complaints against Democrats over the next 30 days. You will see. File one against that Colorado Pols while you are at it. They are agenda driven and spend more than 200 dollars. They are breaking the law. Many supposed journalist are breaking the law. Heck, Denver Post is breaking the law with their one sided reporting and editorials. Non- profits are exempt yet they are constantly taking a side and spending money. It is all one big scam.

  • Comment from: Rossputin
    08/07/10 @ 03:47:15 pm

    J, While I'm with you on going after Dems, I think it's crazy that people's free speech is restricted as if talking about a candidate is a campaign contribution. Even if it hurts my opponents, I won't go down the road of saying that a journalist or opinion writer's work should be counted as a contribution. It's utter bullshit, all of it. I agree with you about non-profits. RGK

  • Eric W.
    Comment from: Eric W.
    08/08/10 @ 06:14:14 pm

    It's pretty common for contributions for married couples (who can legally contribute up to $2,100) to show up as one person. That being said, I checked one of the records, the $2000 contribution that the Constitutionalist notes is "from San Francisco". I'm not sure what implicaition of the city name the Constitutionalist is going for, but the contribution does not actually come from Nancy Pelosi, it comes from one "James Moore". Further, on the TRACER website right below where you click to get the list of contributions, you can click to get the list of returned contributions, and sure enough, there is $950 for Mr. Moore. I don't have time or interest to check all the stuff in the article, but it probably warrants more work. McInnis uses a guy named Brian Lewis for his campaign finance compliance, as do many GOP campaigns around the state. Spending real money on highly regarded compliance help is about as careful as a candidate can realistically be expected to be. I agree with Ross that McInnis is disqualified, but he is far to soft on Maes -- that guy is disqualified as well.