On The Road To 2008 - Commentary on issues as we countdown to the next opportunity to change the direction of America

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Reichert Campaign Admits FEC Reporting Mistakes, Yet Bush Event Totals Still A Mystery

The Reichert campaign issued a press release today, but it wasn't trumping another "who cares" accomplishment by the congressman.

No, this one was about the recent screw-up over the reporting of the campaign's 3rd Quarter finances that I first wrote about a couple of nights ago.

Here's the highly remarkable press release in full:
Corrected Fundraising Numbers for Friends of Dave Reichert

Mike Shields, spokesman for Friends of Dave Reichert, issued the following statement today:

"Late last week and earlier this week I made a mistake in representing the amount of money Friends of Dave Reichert (FDR) raised in the third quarter of 2007. FDR had to return some of the funds that were deposited in its account and I misunderstood the accounting surrounding those refunds.

"The correct numbers, as reported to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) show the Reichert campaign raised $294,888 in the 3 rd quarter of 2007. So far this cycle the campaign has raised $766,703. The campaign has $339,460 cash on hand.

"I apologize for the mistake and for any incorrect stories that were written or broadcast because of it. I encourage media outlets to correct the record.

"I certainly did not intend to mislead anyone, especially in the full knowledge that the numbers are made public by the FEC.

"The discrepancy occurred because FDR used a credit card application while raising money for a Joint Fundraising Account in August which mistakenly put money into the wrong account. This caused $47,100 in electronic over-payments that had to be refunded in compliance with FEC law, all of which is detailed in FDR's FEC report. Returning over-payments is common practice in campaigns.

"In an effort to respond to early media inquiries about our soon-to-be public FEC report, I asked the campaign fundraiser and treasurer for an explanation of our numbers before releasing them. I misunderstood what they told me, which is entirely my fault, and gave incorrect information to the press. As someone who has worked with the media my entire career, I feel terrible that I made a mistake that led to erroneous stories being written and broadcast and I will ensure that figures are reported accurately in the future."
Amazing what a few bloggers looking at some numbers and writing about them can achieve.

However, it doesn't end here.

Letting aside the remark that there was no intention to mislead anyone knowing full well the FEC numbers are available to anyone to look at (and the insinuation that goes with it that perhaps, were the numbers not public, misleading reporters might have been a less egregious act), and ignoring the fact this wasn't just a matter of Mike Shields' misunderstanding what his accountants were telling him, but that the accounting itself was in error, Shields' explanation does not resolve the question of how much money the Bush fundraiser brought in. The campaign still claims it brought in $233,000. Given they've used the larger $500,000 number for the event as a whole, I assume $233,000 would be the campaign's share of it.

I just don't see how that is possible.

The original Reichert Washington Victory Committee report only accounts for $135,000 for the event. The Reichert campaign is claiming the difference is in checks that were erroneously (and in violation of FEC rules) written directly to the campaign. Yet those would have had to be reported in their original FEC report, and they only show $202,731.11 for their itemized contributions. In order to reach $233,000, they would have to claim the difference between the $35,000 disbursement from the Reichert Washington Victory Committee, and the $233K amount, which would mean $198K of the $202K were erroneously processed Bush event contributions, and that all of the amount was then disbursed to the campaign, and not shared with the state party. Even after that it still wouldn't account for the $500,000 total they keep talking about.

Mike Shields' mea-culpa suggests then that not only will the Reichert campaign be filing a new FEC report, but that the Reichert Washington Victory Committee will necessarily have to as well. Only after they both have will we know the real totals - assuming they don't screw them up again.

It just seems impossible to me that they could have received $233K for the campaign coffers alone, and improbable they even can account for that much for the entire event.

Until I see the new FEC numbers I won’t be taking Mike Shields at his word. Indeed, while the old FEC report is what the public can see, any new accounts in the media of the new numbers will not match the numbers the public can verify, which will continue to lead to confusion.

This isn't resolved by a long shot.

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