Saturday, October 10, 2009

FEC nails Barnett for "requested" occupations

Jim Barnett received three serious citations from the Federal Elections Commission regarding his July 2009 campaign finance report.

The letter, dated September 9, shows that just a "preliminary review" of his report turned up multiple errors. The letter continues, "Failure to adequately respond by the response date noted above (October 15) could result in an audit or enforcement action."

As noted before (here and here), Barnett failed to list a single occupation or employer for his donors. This is a serious oversight and it's hard to understand how a seasoned politician like Barnett allowed this to happen.

The FEC outlined three separate steps the campaign must take to obtain the missing occupation and employer information. Several of these may be a problem for the Barnett campaign should the FEC decide to audit their records.

According to the letter, Barnett must, "include a clear and conspicuous request for the contributor information and must inform the contributor of the requirements of federal law for the reporting of such information," in the original solicitation for funds. I have no idea if the Barnett campaign has been doing this, but I would imagine they haven't otherwise the information would have been included on the original report.

The FEC continues that, "if the information is not provided, you must make one follow-up, stand alone effort to obtain this information, regardless of whether the contribution(s) was solicited or not. This effort must occur no later than 30 days after receipt of the contribution."

This may be a problem for the Barnett campaign. Clearly we're several months out from any contributions that would have been included in a July 2009 finance report.

The FEC also notes Barnett's failure to provide all information regarding LLC and partnership business contributions. There's not even a "requested" in the occupation/employer fields for these donors.

Barnett also failed to list whether his $100K "loan" was from his personal funds or a bank. I'm pretty sure I could answer that one for the FEC, but I think I'll let the Barnett campaign handle it since they seem to have so many other items that need clarification as well.

I'm really shocked that the Barnett campaign didn't go ahead and file an amended report a few days after July 15. It isn't like the FEC isn't going to notice you haven't reported all information as required by law. The fact the campaign waited for a notice from the FEC rather than being proactive about fixing the problem only provides further evidence the campaign is deliberately withholding information.

If Barnett won't comply with simple campaign finance laws, how will he act if elected to Congress and in a position of considerable power? His intentional omission of required information raises serious questions about his trust with the public.

Missing employer and occupation information may seem trivial, but the fact the campaign has yet to report this information, knowing full well what the law requires and having received a serious notice from the FEC, speaks volumes about the attitude of Jim Barnett.