Monday, August 13, 2007

The Linda Chavez 'Multi-Candidate Committee' PAC Scam

Something like this ought to get someone sent to jail, but apparently it's not illegal to solicit tens of millions of dollars in donations for causes like "The Pro-Life Campaign" and actually spend less than one percent of that money towards it, meanwhile your entire family draws a salary.Linda Chavez- Bush Sec of Labor nominee


Crooked or Feloniously Inefficient?

The Post is starting us off right this week with a story about PACs that do little but raise money to raise more money and keep the staff employed -- which leads to an analysis the Posties did of ex-everything-and-nothing Linda Chavez's network of political action committees with names like "Republican Issues Committee, the Latino Alliance, Stop Union Political Abuse and the Pro-Life Campaign Committee."

Here's the key passage ...
Of the $24.5 million raised by the PACs from January 2003 to December 2006, $242,000 -- or 1 percent -- was passed on to politicians, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal election reports. The PACs spent even less -- $151,236 -- on independent political activity, such as mailing pamphlets.

Instead, most of the donations were channeled back into new fundraising efforts, and some were used to provide a modest but steady source of income for Chavez and four family members, who served as treasurers and consultants to the committees. Much of the remaining funds went to pay for expenses such as furniture, auto repairs and insurance, and rent for the Sterling office the groups share. Even Chavez's health insurance was paid for a time from political donations.

"I guess you could call it the family business," Chavez said in an interview.
The WaPo article also goes on to say:
More than 2,700 "multi-candidate committees" such as those run by Chavez and her family members are registered with the Federal Election Commission, and unlike the more conventional committees used by candidates to fuel their campaigns, the multi-candidate groups face few rules governing how they can spend money. Only about a dozen are audited each year. And they face little of the public scrutiny that confronts candidate-run committees because no opponent scours their spending reports for irregularities.

"Nobody is looking at these," said Melanie Sloan of the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "It would be nice to know if other people are doing what Ms. Chavez is doing."
It sure seems like there's probably a lot more under this stone.