Sunday, February 06, 2011

Cash, lies and videotape

Show me the money, part II

So we have a Political Action Committee (PAC) known as Partners For Progress (PFP) whose stated mission is:
Partners for Progress PAC’s mission is to not only raise money – but also to raise awareness about the political process, educating potential candidates, candidates, and organizations on how to successfully participate in the political process.
Well, PFP seems to have gotten the raising money part right…too bad they are a little shaky on how to successfully participate in the political process.

As was pointed out in the previous post, there are some interesting “problems” with PFP’s required reporting to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission. The $7200 contribution from the Cooper Levenson law firm that was apparently wheeled to Tony Mack’s mayoral campaign was covered in the prior post.

We will track some other interesting contributions later. This time out let’s look at some of the expenditures that PFP reported.

The first thing that comes up on the expense pages is a listing of payments made to individuals for “community outreach.” This is another term for “street money,” money paid to individuals to get out the vote. By law, these payments must be made by check and reported with each person’s name, address, and the number of the check used to pay them.

PFP reported 79 such payments of $25 each to individuals. That would be a total of $1975 paid for community outreach. Would be…except seven of the reported payments are duplicate entries. So it was really 72 individuals receiving a total of $1800. Guess PFP is somewhat sloppy with their record keeping.

Of the 72 individuals who received payments from PFP, 30 don’t have check numbers listed. That is a violation of state election law. Twelve of the 72 don’t have an address listed. That is also a violation of state election law.

Pretty sloppy record keeping, don’t you think?

Or was this report just hurriedly put together because of the investigation that Politicker NJ reported in December of last year?

Interesting, too, is that PFP paid a Jeff Meyers a $2500 “consulting” fee. One might wonder what kind of consulting Mr. Meyers provided to PFP. The report doesn’t give the required full address for Mr. Meyers, just the fact that his is from Burlington, NJ.

Is it safe to assume, then, that this Mr. Jeff Meyers is the very same Jeff Meyers who stepped down as the Treasurer of the Burlington County Democratic Committee because of questions surrounding some money “wheeling” and pay to play schemes (sound familiar?)

If we are talking about the same Jeff Meyers, is it not reasonable to expect that a former county political committee treasurer would know the rules for proper ELEC reporting? Wouldn’t it have been prudent to seek his advice and counsel in preparing and filing the required reports in a timely manner?

Three other expenditures jump off the page as one peruses this report.

Under the heading of “Itemized Contributions Made to Candidates and Committees” are entries for the $7200 contribution made to Mr. Mack’s campaign, a $250 contribution to Councilwoman At Large Kathy McBride’s campaign, and a $5000 contribution to Juan Martinez’s campaign.

The Mack contribution seems directly related to the now disputed Cooper Levenson contribution to PFP.

The contribution received by Ms. McBride’s campaign falls beneath the $300 threshold for required reporting and so she apparently didn’t. There are additional expenditures listed as “in-kind” on her behalf that would, when paired with the $250 contribution, put her over that limit and require her to report the aggregate contributions. It looks as though PFP may have failed to notify these candidates of these “in-kind” contributions as required by law and the blame, again, lies with them.

Now the $5000 contribution given to Mr. Martinez presents an interesting situation. The date of the contribution is for June 15, the date of the runoff election. Mr. Martinez, who is one of the candidates woefully lacking in compliance with NJ ELEC reporting requirements, had apparently not filed any reports for the runoff part of the election cycle. So we don’t know if he actually received this money or not.

Interestingly, in a videotaped conversation posted on Robert Chilson’s Trenton United Blog, Mr. Martinez states that he never received any money from PFP. He claims that he received a phone call from someone connected with PFP asking if they could put him down as the recipient of a contribution. Martinez admits that he probably shouldn’t have given the go ahead, even with the attached caveat that if the contribution was questioned it would deflect back on PFP.

Is this another indication that PFP hurriedly put together a report in response to the ELEC investigation and “faked” the contribution?

Or did Mr. Martinez actually take a $5000 contribution and not report it?

Again, all it would take is the production of a copy of the cancelled check to show who is telling the truth.

But that seems to be too much to expect from either PFP or Martinez.

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