Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Is the money spent on the Public Disclosure Commission worth it?

I don't have a ton of experience with the actual PDC.  Like many others, I've sent deposits and expenditures in, pondered complaints when filed against candidates I'm working with and the like.

However, I've been a rabid follower of the filings of the candidates reporting to the PDC.  Where their money is coming from (when they can get it) and where it goes are typical "tells."  Those reports can be an invaluable tool when running a campaign.  And that is why so many candidates, effectively, blow off the PDC because they're well aware they seem to be a group of toothless bureaucrats who do nothing more than sending out letters and when they DO act, they typically act in such a way that the punishments rarely rise above that level required for a forgotten parking ticking in scope and impact.

Less information = fewer tips to the other side.

Recently, a sitting state senator; unfortunately, one "representing" the special interests of the state and her district to the detriment of the people of that district, allowed her fraudulent PDC reporting to go uncorrected for in excess of a year.

She had, effectively, over-reported her donations by a paltry $182,000 or so.

She had committed numerous of violations of the rules, laws, and policies of the Public Disclosure Commission.

Serious business, that.

Did the Commission... who waited more than a year after I filed my complaint against Rivers, act in such a way that this isn't likely to happen again?

Nope.  Rivers lied about "mistakes," and  that it was "unintentional on her part."

Right.  Letting the world believe she had $182,000 more on hand than she actually had... for over a year... was "unintentional."

It's as if she hadn't ever bothered to look at her OWN PDC's!

And how likely is that?

Those elected or running for election frequently look at their own PDC's.  They can't help it.

Rivers would have us believe that even though her own husband maintained the campaign checkbook, she simply had no clue that in the PDC's she was overstating her campaign account by 10's of thousands of dollars.

And this woman gets a vote on our taxes... the state budget... and, of course, screwing us sideways on the gas tax... all while being unable to handle her own campaign finances and then failing to take responsibility for her very own deliberate actions?

And what was the penalty for her violations, this experienced politician... this campaign consultant for over a decade... this veteran of dozens of PDC forms and filings?

She was fined $4000... with $3000 of that suspended.  And, of course, after the election... you know, to make sure it couldn't become a campaign issue?

Yup.  $1000 for deliberately misleading the people.  It was, she said, ALL a "mistake."

For a year. Over almost $200,000.

And that brings us to the esteemed Chair of the Clark County Council, Marc Boldt.

During the course of his campaign in 2012, where David Madore pounded him like a nail, Boldt filed an expenditure report which indicated he, Boldt, had personally removed $5000 from his campaign account... for repayment of a loan that he, Boldt, had personally made to his own campaign.

As it turns out, according to the PDC investigation, the repayment shown in Boldt's own records and reported by Boldt himself, did NOT take place... and Boldt did NOT pay himself $5000.

He provided bank statements to prove it.

But what those banks statements ALSO proved was that he, Boldt, had lied on the form when he DID report that he HAD paid himself that money.

Further, even now, there are NO records to indicate where that money DID go.

This was the PDC's response when I reminded them of all of this:
Mr. Hinton,
Your allegation was concerning the loan for the 2012 campaign and that is what I investigated. The bank statement confirmed that no loan was made by Mr. Boldt or repaid to him. 
PDC staff did not have review the 2012 campaign filings other than the loan issue, nor was there any reason to do so once the bank statements were reviewed.  In addition, Mr. Boldt acknowledged the error on the record at the Commission hearing and he realized that he did not process the transaction properly in ORCA, but stated those were the facts.
The Commission dismissed the allegation, but modified the Stipulation to require payment of the $1,000 non-suspended portion of the penalty within 30 days not 60 days.  The Commission added another condition that if Mr. Boldt seeks election to another office in the future, he is required to hire a professional or experienced Treasurer to assist him in complying with the law, and that neither he nor any family member can serve in that capacity.
This case has been adjudicated by the Commission, and I am closing this ticket.
Kurt Young
PDC Compliance Officer
So, the PDC KNOWS that Boldt lied; they have his ACKNOWLEDGMENT that he lied, and THAT he lied meant absolutely nothing in their deliberations.

He "closed the ticket."

I filed a formal complaint with the Attorney General's office alleging Boldt's misconduct and the PDC's failure to address Boldt's false reporting and refiled the PDC complaint against Boldt, THIS time laying out both that Boldt lied AND the PDC knew it AND that they have the evidence that proves it.

So, if anyone were to look at Boldt's PDC's for 2012, they would STILL find inaccurate and opaque records which do NOT accomplish the PDC's goal of either accuracy or transparency and which are, as admitted to by Marc Boldt, false.

Because of all of this, it has become clear that the Public Disclosure Commission is weak, they stall, they wait far too long to adjudicate these cases and, as we all know the axiom: "Justice delayed is Justice denied."

And it's time to get rid of them and replace them with something that assures accuracy and timeliness and has the power to properly hold those who lie to us and/or manipulate the system, accountable for their actions.

Because this... is not that.

1 comment:

Pete Masterson said...

Here's an idea -- why not just abolish all this foolishness with campaign "transparency." For the first nearly 200 years of our history, we did not have "public disclosure" of campaign finances. While there were some terrible folks elected, and plenty of corruption, that situation still exists (that is, there are some terrible folks that get elected and there's plenty of corruption). "Public Disclosure" (and campaign donation limits and campaign spending limits) have done exactly zero to improve the situation.

On the downside, there have been some excellent politicians (in the past) that got initial assistance from "sponsors" (one or a few who financed their campaign in its early stages) that ultimately made excellent public statesmen. The current system generally precludes those who do not gather a strong response from the beginning from lasting long enough to rise above the noise of multiple campaign participants.

The current system also allows opposition campaigns to find out who supporters of various candidates (or propositions) are ... and then allows them to harass and embarrass them. Hindering the fair fight in the public arena.