Political watchdog group urges Lieberman to come clean on petty cash
Today, the nonprofit, nonpartisan watchdog group, Public Campaign Action Fund, sent a letter to Senator Joe Lieberman regarding his nondisclosure of 387,000 in petty cash. Here is the letter in full
October 30, 2006As I stated earlier today, this issue is not going to go away until the Lieberman campaingn allow the public to know how they spent this enourmous amount of money in the span of twelve days prior to the primary.
The Hon. Joseph Lieberman
PO Box 231294
State House Square
Hartford, CT 06123
Dear Senator Lieberman,
Your voting record on matters of campaign finance reform, lobbying and ethics reform, and disclosure has been strong in your 18 years in the U.S. Senate. I applaud your recent signature on the Voters First Pledge to clean up Congress, which is a pledge supported by Public Campaign Action Fund and several other national reform organizations, to clean up Congress.
Unfortunately, this commitment to reform and to open government is now being called into question as a result of your campaign's lack of publicly acknowledging how it spent some $387,561 in petty cash in the primary election.
We understand that this letter comes at a time when you are running a competitive campaign against opponents who have criticized you on this issue. We also recognize that your campaign staff is working long hours communicating with the voters of Connecticut, and that the administrative task of assembling an account of the petty cash may not seem, at first blush, to be as important as other matters.
Yet we believe that this issue, if left unresolved, will not simply impact this election, but also elections to come. No other Senate campaign that we know of has ever left undisclosed to the public a sum as large as this. The Federal Elections Commission does not require that you provide a line-by-line accounting of this for public scrutiny. But in the interests of fairness and protecting the public trust, we urge you to make an accurate accounting of these expenses available for the public to view on its own. That way this matter can be put to rest.
Earlier this year, you were quoted in a newspaper article saying that "history shows that money in government has a way, like water, of finding points of vulnerability. But that doesn't mean we shouldn’t try to strengthen the points of vulnerability so the water can't get through." Before you set a historically significant precedent of opening up a serious breach in the campaign finance disclosure laws, we urge you to account for your campaign's undisclosed spending.
Your admirable record on reform and disclosure - particularly your support for the Voters First Pledge - should be allowed to speak for itself, and not be called into question by the non-disclosure of a substantial amount of campaign spending.
With Election Day just eight days away, it is our hope you will release this information immediately.
For a brief timeline, click here.
UPDATE: The Lamont camaign respond to letter urging Lieberman to explain himself.
"The citizens of Connecticut have a right to a senator who follows the law and who comes clean about a slush fund underwritten by Washington lobbyists," said Lamont spokeswoman Liz Dupont-Diehl. "If Senator Lieberman has behaved legally, then he has nothing to hide. But if he does not immediately come clean by following the letter and spirit of the law, he raises serious questions about unethical impropriety that voters have a right to know about before this election."There is something seriously wrong with this picture and this story is far from over.