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Lamont campaign files formal FEC complaint regarding Lieberman's alleged 'slush fund'

RAW STORY
Published: Monday October 23, 2006

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The Ned Lamont campaign filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission over Connectictut Senator Joe Lieberman's alleged "slush fund," according to a press release obtained by RAW STORY.

"After President Richard Nixon abused campaign finance law through his Committee to Reelect the President (CREEP), laws were passed to force candidates to disclose how they spend campaign funds," the press release states. "But over the weekend, it became clear Senator Joe Lieberman may be ignoring those laws, as the Senator’s FEC reports uncovered $387,000 'petty cash' slush fund that could be called the Committee to Reelect Lieberman (CREEL)."

"During the 14 days around the August 8th primary, Lieberman’s campaign spent over $387,000 on un-itemized, un-identified, and un-disclosed disbursements," the press release continues. "By contrast, Ned Lamont’s campaign spent just $500 on petty cash in the entire reporting period."

The Lamont campaign asks the following questions: "What was this spent on? Who was it spent on? And why weren’t the expenses itemized, as the FEC requires?"

"Today, the Lamont campaign will be filing a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission, demanding an investigation into possible wrongdoing," the press release announces.

Yesterday, the Lieberman campaign denied that there was any intentional wrongdoing.

"Lieberman spokeswoman Tammy Sun said she wasn’t with the campaign at the time of the primary, but her understanding is that there was a staffer in charge of keeping track of petty cash," Mary E. O’Leary reported for the New Haven Register.

"She said the money was used to cover salaries, food, lodging and transportation for hundreds who were hired to do statewide canvassing," O'Leary wrote. "The daily rates ranged from $60 to $75 to $200 for the work, Sun said."

Sun told the paper that "she would attempt to find the petty cash report by Monday."

"Whenever this much cash is floating around it certainly raises suspicions of possible vote buying and other potentially illegal activities that the Lieberman Campaign must answer," Lamont spokesman Liz Dupont-Diehl told the Associated Press on Sunday.

At Ned Lamont's official blog, Tim Tageris theorized that the "slush fund paid for the thugs they sent out to disrupt our events and pick fights with the candidate, campaign manager and volunteers."

"There are far more nefarious explanations for how Joe could have spent $387,000 from an unmarked slush fund in an attempt to get out the vote, but I hesitate to even post them," Tageris wrote. "Fact is, every shred of evidence, ancetodal and otherwise, points away from the assertion that it was spent on an ABSOLUTE MINIMUM of 3,870 volunteers, each hired for one day, at the maximum of $200 a day."

In response to the complaint, Sun told the Associated Press today that "Ned is starting to feel like he has nothing to lose and its increasingly clear that he'll now stop at nothing to win, including crazy charges of vote-buying and thuggery."

Further excerpts from Lamont campaign press release:

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LIEBERMAN REPORT SHOWS UNPRECEDENTED $387,000 SLUSH FUND: Lieberman’s most recent FEC report shows $387,561 spent on “petty cash” – unaccounted for cash that was not itemized at all. To understand what an abuse this is, consider that FEC rules dictate that all expenditures over $200 must be itemized.

LIEBERMAN SLUSH FUND COMPRISED ONE OUT OF EVERY 12 DOLLARS SPENT: Lieberman’s massive slush fund comprised almost 8 percent of all of his expenditures in the reporting period. That’s almost one out of every $22 that Lieberman is effectively hiding.

LIEBERMAN FUNNELED OUT $32,000 A DAY IN UNACCOUNTED CASH: Lieberman’s campaign disbursed $387,000 in unmarked “petty cash” in just 12 days. That’s $32,000 every single day, with no accounting at all for how it was spent.

OTHER ADMINISTRATIVE COSTS WERE ACCOUNTED FOR: Most mundane expenditures from Lieberman’s campaign such as salaries, printing, food, and other “petty” expenditures were already itemized on Lieberman’s FEC report, begging the question: What did Lieberman do with almost $400,000 in unaccounted for cash in 12 days?

THESE EXPENDITURES APPEAR TO VIOLATE FEC STATUTE: Title 11 C.F.R. �102.11 (2 U.S.C. 432(h)(2)) (Petty Cash Fund) provides: A political committee may maintain a petty cash fund out of which it may make expenditures not in excess of $200 to any person per purchase or transaction. If a petty cash fund is maintained, it shall be the duty of the treasurer of the political committee to keep and maintain a written journal of all disbursements. This written journal shall include the name and address of every person to whom any disbursement is made, as well as the date, amount, and purpose of such disbursement. In addition, if any disbursement is made for a candidate, the journal shall include the name of that candidate and the office (including State and Congressional district) sought by such candidate.

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Text of complaint letter at Lamont campaign site:

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October 23, 2006

Office of General Counsel Federal Election Commission 999 E Street NW Washington, DC 20463

RE: Formal Complaint Regarding Friends of Joe Lieberman (Committee ID: C00235515)

Dear General Counsel:

Please accept this letter as a formal complaint regarding the apparent violation of Title 11 of the Code of Federal Regulations, section 102.11, by the Friends of Joe Lieberman committee, and Joseph I. Lieberman, individually. As set forth more fully below, the Lieberman committee has failed to account for more than $387,000.00 in supposed petty cash expenditures in violation of 11 C.F.R. §102.11. On behalf of the citizens of Connecticut and all federal taxpayers, it is hereby alleged:

Title 11 C.F.R. §102.11 (2 U.S.C. 432(h)(2)) (Petty Cash Fund) provides:

A political committee may maintain a petty cash fund out of which it may make expenditures not in excess of $200 to any person per purchase or transaction. If a petty cash fund is maintained, it shall be the duty of the treasurer of the political committee to keep and maintain a written journal of all disbursements. This written journal shall include the name and address of every person to whom any disbursement is made, as well as the date, amount, and purpose of such disbursement. In addition, if any disbursement is made for a candidate, the journal shall include the name of that candidate and the office (including State and Congressional district) sought by such candidate.

The Friends of Joe Lieberman committee, and Joseph I. Lieberman, individually have violated the clear and unambiguous terms of 11 C.F.R. §102.11 in at least the following three ways.

First, according to the FEC October Quarterly report filed on October 13, 2006, the Lieberman campaign has petty cash disbursements amounting to $387,561.00, which is roughly 8 percent of its total disbursements, or one out of every twelve dollars spent. On several occasions, petty cash disbursements greater than $200 were reported, as supposed payment for “volunteers.” A summary of these disbursements from the Friends of Joe Lieberman report is attached hereto. These disbursements reflect patent violations of 11 C.F.R. §102.11.

Second, the report does not include the name and address of every person to whom any disbursement is made, as well as the date, amount, and purpose of such disbursement. Again, Friends of Joe Lieberman stands in clear violation of 11 C.F.R. §102.11.

Third, and perhaps most troubling, the Associated Press reported earlier today that Lieberman spokeswoman Tammy Sun claims the cash was supposedly used pay to field coordinators who then distributed money to workers who were canvassing (Andrew Miga, Lamont Questions Lieberman's Spending, October 23, 2006). There is no evidence that the Lieberman committee kept and maintained a written journal of any kind regarding these disbursements as required by 11 C.F.R. §102.11. As I am sure you are aware, the rationale for this regulation is to, among other things, prevent the creation and utilization of slush funds for illicit purposes. The $387,561.00 involved here is a sum of supposed petty cash expenditures unprecedented in any race in our state’s history. The Lieberman campaign’s patent disregard for this regulation calls for the immediate investigation of this matter by your office to ensure that the voters of Connecticut can be fairly informed about the conduct of their elected officials.

I would appreciate you contacting me to confirm receipt of this complaint.

I thank you in advance for your attention to this pressing matter.

Sincerely Yours,

Thomas Swan 300 Research Parkway, Suite 102 Meriden, CT 06450

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