The home office

Typically, we don’t report much here on technical election complaints to either the Federal Elections Commission or to state elections offices. While some may be serious, many are simply attempts to barb an opponent with an embarrassing “gatcha!”. But now from Michigan, of all places, comes one worth more attention.

The local background to this is in Idaho’s 1st U.S. House race, where Republican Bill Sali won his primary campaign in considerable part because of the help of Club for Growth, a supply side/tax cut group based in Washington. The Club’s money was the biggest reason Sali’s finances were well ahead of everyone else’s in the primary and have continued so large. Sali has, in debates, acknowledged the group is an important part of his support, and said they simply believe the same things he does.

The FEC complaint just filed by Michigan Republican Representative Joe Schwarz, however, takes this to another kind of level.

Schwartz recent lost his primary election to Tim Walberg, an evangelical minister, and since has decided not to fade quietly away. Club for Growth was also a key factor in Walberg’s campaign, and after some checking Schwartz fired off to the FEC a complaint alleging a string of violations including sharing campaign resources – such as polling and media consultants – among four campaigns. One of those four campaigns was Sali’s.

This is, so far, a complaint only and not a finding. But the implications ought to get people to take notice, because the sharing aspect of all this suggests that the Club was not merely the largest contributor among several, but was playing a managing role as well – running, in part at least, these campaigns from its central office in Washington. That might seem a bit of a reach except for the very large amounts of money pouring into these campaigns.

Again, this is a complaint and not a finding. But it is worth quire a bit more review and discussion.

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