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Busted: A money scheme to fool the voters

Post by Kim Bradford on Oct. 28, 2010 at 6:54 pm with 11 Comments »
October 28, 2010 6:54 pm

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Three cheers for the election watchdogs who traffic in campaign finance reports, spreadsheets and databases, trying to follow the money and make clear the murky dealings of political operatives.

Bloggers, reporters and other guardians of disclosure have scored a major win by unraveling the tangled web Moxie Media wove in a blatant attempt to deceive voters.
That web now has Moxie and its owner, Lisa MacLean, square in the attorney general’s crosshairs.

On Thursday, the Public Disclosure Commission rejected a staff-negotiated deal that would have required MacLean to admit violating state campaign finance laws and pay $30,000 in fines and costs.

Give staffers some credit: They nailed MacLean with several campaign finance violations less than eight weeks after launching an investigation, a welcome change from the usual glacial pace of PDC probes.

But commissioners are right. The proposed penalty was far too weak given the brazen nature of the alleged offenses. The commission is calling on Attorney General Rob McKenna to pursue a civil action against MacLean – and to consider whether her tactics were so egregious as to warrant an election do-over.

MacLean stands accused of orchestrating a complex scheme intended to delay – if not outright avoid – the disclosure of donors to a stealth campaign to unseat a Democratic state senator.

In August, Moxie Media spearheaded a last-minute effort to promote Rod Rieger, a Marysville conservative who wasn’t doing much to promote himself. Two mailers and a round of robocalls later, Rieger bested Democratic incumbent Sen. Jean Berkey in the primary.

Rieger’s benefactors? Cut Taxes PAC and Conservative PAC, two organizations with nice, Republican-sounding names. In reality, the PACs were MacLean-created fronts for the labor interests and trial lawyers who were targeting Berkey for not being liberal enough.

The PDC found that MacLean promised those donors she could ensure that they would not be connected to the pro-Rieger ads – at least not before election day.
Laundering campaign cash through multiple PACs to frustrate disclosure is nothing new, but MacLean has apparently made an art of it.

Business interests – who admittedly have an interest in kneecapping a Democratic operative – have used campaign finance reports to link Moxie to 40 PACs that have funneled as much as $2.7 million to a state Supreme Court contest and 16 legislative races.

In most instances, Moxie’s allegiances are transparent – it supports the most liberal candidate in the race. But its tactics are still designed to confuse. Take the Tom Campbell-J.T. Wilcox race in the 2nd District. Hit pieces attacking Wilcox identify “For the People” and “Second Defense” as contributors.

Dig deep, and you might discover that those PACs aren’t the coalitions of constitutionalists or gun-rights supporters they might seem. They are backed by the likes of FUSE Washington and the Service Employees International Union.

Moxie Media’s campaign to evade disclosure strikes at the very heart of campaign finance laws. Ensuring voters have a clear view of who is doing the spending is the best defense against the corrupting influence of money in politics.

The attorney general should deal harshly with those who would conspire to thwart the public’s right to know and undermine clean elections.

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Leave a comment Comments → 11
  1. hortonpeak says:

    I presume an equally detailed report will follow about AFPW’s antics. Shall we say this crap has gone on far too long but my admitted bias is that the umbrage is not balanced.

  2. hortonpeak says:

    The attorney general should deal harshly with those who would conspire to thwart the public’s right to know and undermine clean elections.

    Read more:

    Good luck considering his past history.

  3. hortonpeak says:

    And, I add. I notice once again the most controversial editorial will appear in the print addition without chance for rebuttal. Thank goodness the print edition is getting smaller and smaller – any wonder.

  4. well, Tom Campbell is really showing his true colors! I feel that a full and complete investigation must be done by the Attorney Generals office. I have written to Tom Campbell and he denies any affiliation with Moxie just as he has lied about his affiliation with the Labor unions. He told me he has no control over who sends out hit adds nor who endorses him.
    It was suggested on a web-site that we should send the Moxie Media hit adds into the attorney Generals office and I shall do just that.
    Tom Campbell you have no place in the 2nd district. Your political career is over.

  5. hortonpeak says:

    To Ivote, I presume you paid close attention to who paid for the mailers you received in past elections. Or are you only upset because someone pointed out the controversy. One question test. Can you tell me the connection between the present attorney general and the chamber of commerce? If your answer is yes with details we shall continue. If not, you are only reacting, justifiably, to a local controversy while not paying attention to far greater, but underreported, influence in elections.

  6. ivote: There is no evidence that Tom Campbell was involved with the attacks on Wilcox or is working with Moxie. I don’t want to leave anyone with the impression that the investigation by the PDC or other watchdogs revealed such a connection.

  7. tcampbell says:

    This is a direct result of the courts not allowing control of “independent expenditures”. I have had no input, control or knowledge of these actions by outside influences. I don’t need this job enough to lie to you. I have renounced such conduct and I am sickened by it. The fact that any of this happened is wrong and I have no part of it. It is flat wrong that outside parties can take my name and use it without my consent. If you look at all of MY mail pieces you will see that I talked about my record that I am proud of, and of the things I wish to do in the next term. I have not attacked my opponent, but be sure HE has directly smeared my character and distorted my record. I have not done a negative piece in ten campaigns. I will respond to set the record straight as I have done but I will not get in the slime pit with anyone.
    Rep. Tom Campbell

  8. Lynn_Brewer says:

    Did you also see that Tom Campbell is endorsed by JZ Knight – the infamous channeler and her 35,000 warrior saying that Tom Campbell has been a good friend of the RSE “School.” The link is below.

    my crystal ball say’s you lies have caught up with you. Ramtha the enlightened one has obviously not taught you have to channel the truth.

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