Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Scared of Darcy Burner's campaign, state GOP files frivolous FEC complaint

The Washington State Republican Party (WSRP), incredibly nervous about the strength of Darcy Burner's campaign in the 8th Congressional District, has filed a frivolous complaint with the Federal Elections Commission alleging that federal election laws were violated.

The GOP complaint, which was apparently filed yesterday, is aimed at legal volunteer activities conducted by private citizens, including NPI's own Media & Communications Director, Andrew Tsao, who is also a co-organizer of Eastside DFA.

The GOP alleged that Eastside Democracy for America (DFA) paid for a campaign event that was not listed in any of Burner's federally-mandated campaign disclosures, and produced and distributed a videotape of the event.

In response to this frivolous attack, Eastside Democracy for America, which was named in the complaint, wishes to make the following absolutely clear:
  1. Eastside Democracy for America is a citizens group of progressive minded Americans living in the Bellevue and surrounding areas of Washington State.
  2. Eastside Democracy for America is not a 527, a PAC, non-profit organization, company or corporation of any kind We are an informal group of private citizens who gather regularly to work together towards an equitable, just, free and economically sustainable America by taking local political action towards that goal.
  3. Eastside Democracy for America was inspired by the grassroots efforts of the Howard Dean campaign in 2004, and by the PAC Democracy for America (“DFA”). However, we have no affiliation, legal or organizational, with Democracy for America. We conduct no regular business with DFA, receive no funds, provide no funds to them, nor are we beholden to any DFA mandates, policies or programs. We use freely available tools that are posted on the DFA website for organizing, identification and political activities.
  4. Andrew Tsao, co-organizer of Eastside DFA and producer of the video materials mentioned in the FEC complaint, is a private citizen and registered Democrat who resides in Bellevue, Washington. He received no funds from the Darcy Burner campaign to produce the videos. He produced the video with volunteer efforts, with equipment he owns privately, and edited, duplicated and distributed the videos entirely on his own. The total out of pocket expenses for producing both videos mentioned in the FEC complaint was less than $200.00. He was not paid for his efforts, nor did anyone involved receive any payment for their services. This was entirely a volunteer, grassroots effort, not involved in any corporate, PAC, 527 or non-profit organization. In addition, the event mentioned on October 10, 2005 was an Eastside DFA meeting held at the Northwest Arts Center, rented by Andrew Tsao for less than $50.00.
  5. Andrew Tsao made the video material available to the campaign of Darcy Burner for Congress to use as they see fit, at no cost. He also provides free copies of the videos to any group, citizen or organization wishing to view the videos. Andrew Tsao has not received, nor intends to receive, any compensation, financial or otherwise, from this endeavor.
Chapter 100.74 of the Federal Elections Campaign Act states that an individual may volunteer personal services to a campaign without making a contribution as long as the individual is not compensated by anyone for the services.
Personal Services

Basic Rule: No Compensation

An individual may volunteer personal services to a campaign without making a contribution as long as the individual is not compensated by anyone for the services.

100.74. Volunteer activity is not reportable.

EXAMPLE: An attorney, working as a volunteer (i.e., he receives no compensation from anyone), writes policy papers for the campaign.

Note, however, that if volunteers are, in fact, paid for their services, the activity is no longer considered volunteer activity, and the payments, if made by someone other than the campaign itself, result in in-kind contributions, which must be reported by the campaign. 100.54.

(Exception: "Free Legal and Accounting Services," above.)
It is clear that the Darcy Burner campaign and Eastside DFA have not violated campaign finance law. NPI calls on the Federal Election Commission to dismiss this frivolous complaint immediately and remind the Washington State Republican Party about Chapter 100.74 of the Federal Elections Campaign Act, which they apparently have no knowledge of.

Darcy Burner's campaign reacted swiftly.

"Because of people’s desire for change, hundreds of people helped Darcy raise twice as much as Congressman Reichert last quarter. This obviously spooked the Republican," said Zach Silk, campaign manager for the Darcy Burner campaign, who denounced the attack.

Republicans are crowing that Darcy's campaign "tacitly admitted" to violating election laws because the video has been removed from Darcy's website. But NPI has learned that the video was previously removed because it was outdated, having been created in October of 2005, which was more than six months ago. The campaign was planning on adding a new video to the website soon.

UPDATE: The original video has been restored and is now once again available at Darcy Burner's website.

Republicans have nothing credible with which to attack Darcy Burner's campaign, so they have resorted to picking through public records, making personal attacks, and filing frivolous complaints with the Federal Election Commission.

That's not what the voters in the 8th Congressional District care about. The voters in the 8th care about Dave Reichert's record, and that's exactly what this campaign will be about.

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