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Monday, October 30, 2006

You can run, but you can't hide

It's now been over a week since the Lieberman campaign said they would allow reporters to check their journals regarding the 387,000 in COLD HARD PETTY CASH they spent right before the primary.

To put this into perspective, here's a chart of Lieberman's petty cash spending compared to other politicians during the same eleciton cycle.
Joe's Petty Cash Cropped

* Ben Cardin (MD) - $0.00

* Kweisi Mfume (MD) -$0.00

* Lincoln Chafee (RI) - $650.00

* Stephen Laffey (RI) - $0.00

* Hillary Clinton (NY) - $0.00

* Jonathan Tasini (NY) - $0.00

* George Allen (VA) - $0.00

* Jim Webb (VA) - $0.00

* Harris Miller (VA) - $0.00

* John Tester (MT) - $0.00

* Conrad Burns (MT) - $0.00

* Bob Corker (TN) - $0.00

* Harold Ford (TN) - $1500.00

* Sherrod Brown (OH) - $0.00

* Mike DeWine (OH) - $0.00

* Ed Case (HI) - $0.00

* Daniel Akaka (HI) - $0.00

* Alan Schlesinger (CT) - $0.00

* Ned Lamont (CT) - $500.00

* Joe Lieberman (CT) - $387,000.00

Now let's take a trip back down memory lane and watch as the Lieberman camp lie to the press.

First, Lieberman spokeswoman Tammy Sun said she wasn't there when it happened:

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. (NH Register, 10/22)

Then she promised she'd produce the journal detailing petty cash expenditures - one that is required by FEC law:

She said the money was used to cover salaries, food, lodging and transportation for hundreds who were hired to do statewide canvassing. The daily rates ranged from $60 to $75 to $100 for the work, Sun said. She said she would attempt to find the petty cash report by Monday. (NH Register, 10/22)

Then she was "unable to say" why the young workers who assumedly got all this cash weren't listed by name and salary in the FEC report, while their lodging and transportation was:

Sun was unable to say Saturday why the workers, some of whom appeared to have stayed for days or weeks in dormitories at the expense of the Lieberman campaign, were not listed by name and salary. (Courant, 10/22)

Then she hid behind the campaign's lawyer:

"The fact is, our attorney has assured us that the petty cash expenditures and the rest of our FEC report is in full compliance with the law's disclosure requirements just as every campaign Joe Lieberman has run for the last 18 years has been." (AP, 10/23)

Then she reversed herself, said the cash was not used to pay workers, but to pay field coordinators who then threw the cash around to kids:

Lieberman's campaign spokeswoman, Tammy Sun, said today the cash was paid to field coordinators who then distributed the money to workers who canvassed for the three-term incumbent, who's running as an independent candidate after his primary loss to Lamont in August. (Journal-Inquirer, 10/24)

Then she reversed herself, and told reporters they couldn't see the petty cash journal:

Sun declined Monday to allow reporters to examine the campaign's petty cash journal. (Courant, 10/24)

Now, despite promising reporters she would produce records of how almost $400,000 in cash was spent and then suddenly telling reporters they couldn't look at them, and despite still being "unable to say" why the slush fund even existed in the first place, she's calling the whole thing a "kooky conspiracy theory":

"We are in full compliance with the FEC's disclosure requirements, have done nothing wrong, and there's not a shred of evidence to suggest otherwise. We will not be going beyond the law to release the journal simply because Ned Lamont has some kooky conspiracy theory." (NH Register, 10/24)
If the Lieberman camp think this story is going away, they're sadly mistaken.

The NY Times:
The latest sparks came early this week, when the Lamont campaign filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about nearly $380,000 the Lieberman campaign listed as "petty cash" to pay for volunteers in the final two weeks of the primary. Tammy Sun, a spokeswoman for Mr. Lieberman, said the money was used to pay for young workers used in the field operation in the last days of the campaign.

By law, a campaign must keep a journal of petty cash payments of less than $100, but it is not required to make the contents of the journal public. Ms. Sun declined to allow reporters to examine the journal, saying there is no evidence of wrongdoing.

Several campaign finance experts said that while the expenditure was an unusually large sum of money to be listed as petty cash, it would be legal as long as each of the payments was less than $100.

The Politicker:
But judging by conversations I've had with people within the Lamont camp, it's the Joe Lieberman GOTV effort that's on their minds. Specifically, they're obsessed -- perhaps with good cause -- with the matter of Lieberman's nearly $400,000 in unaccounted for petty cash expenses. Lamont's supporters aren't going to let the matter drop, and staffers, as well as unaffiliated Democratic consultants I've been speaking with, seem to find it genuinely extraordinary.
Commentary from Timothy L. Brennan, treasurer for Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz's election committees from 2004 to this past January.
I recently reviewed Sen. Joe Lieberman's filings with the Federal Elections Committee, in which he reported $387,000 in petty cash that was distributed over the 12 days leading up to the primary.

The problem with a petty cash fund in political campaigns is that it may lead to an appearance of impropriety because these are cash payments to people and for purposes that are not disclosed to the public.

For that reason alone, as treasurer, I never allowed a petty cash fund.

Indeed, such campaign finance laws were passed in the wake of the Watergate scandal to safeguard against President Nixon's practice of maintaining a large secret election fund that was used, usually $100 at a time, for illegal purposes including the break-in and bugging of Democratic headquarters at the Watergate Hotel. Disclosure laws also exist to protect the American public from vote-buying and other illicit activities that have the effect of robbing people of one of their most fundamental and constitutional rights: the right to vote. This is why Joe Lieberman's extraordinarily large and secret cash fund has raised suspicions.

Accountability begins with leadership.

Joe Lieberman needs to explain immediately and in detail to whom and for what purposes his campaign spent on average $32,000 a day in unaccounted-for cash in just 12 days.

As Connecticut's former attorney general, Joe Lieberman knows that campaign finance information for public campaigns is neither privileged nor confidential. To the contrary, it belongs to the public. The citizens of Connecticut, as they prepare themselves for an informed vote on Nov. 7, are entitled to an answer.

Cliff Schecter had this to say about the 387,000 and Lieberman's hypocrisy.
And now we have the coup de grĂ¢ce. The case of the missing $387,000 in "petty cash" from Lieberman's campaign account during his primary loss to Ned Lamont, even though no more than $100 is ever supposed to be used for the kind of things petty cash usually buys. Something tells me 3,870 times that amount found its way into securing votes the old-fashioned way.

Joe first said he'd release the full details of where that cash ended up, but now he's decided he won't. The Lamont campaign has already filed a complaint with the FEC, because really, nobody should be allowed to upstage Richard Nixon when it comes to electoral sleaze.
In the days leading up to the primary (when the cash was handed out) the Liebergoons, led by DC lobbyist lobbyist Richard Goodstein, came out in large numbers and disrupted several Lamont events. The goons went as far as creating an ungly incident at Ted's in Meriden as Goodstein and his hitmen screamed in Lamont's face and created a dangerous situation for the people in the resturant.
Friday Rally 8

More Anger!Again, lets go back in time and revisit the scene.

The next stop is just a few miles away at Ted's, a famous cheeseburger shack in town. Ned greets some supporters on the patio outside, and then we file inside to get our steamed burgers. It's small and crowded in here, and though the drill is to stay as far out of the candidate's way as possible, I get pinned right up against Ned in the crowd. Then, all of a sudden, everyone in the restaurant, in the booths and at the counter, everywhere, simultaneously pulls on a white Lieberman T-shirt. It takes a second to process what's happening. "Oh, my God," Ned says. "It's the Lieber people." They start heckling Ned aggressively, using campaign attack lines about taxes and how for sixteen years, until right before this campaign, Ned belonged to a country club in Greenwich that has almost no black members. Most of Joe's supporters in Ted's are kids, but there's one big bald guy, the only adult among them, who starts a loud, frenzied inquisition right in Ned's face. "Are you a Bill Clinton Democrat or an Al Sharpton Democrat?"

"They're not mutually exclusive," Ned says.

"No, I'm asking. Answer me! Clinton or Sharpton?" Ned tries to answer, but the guy interrupts: "I worked for Abe Ribicoff. He couldn't play golf at your country club in Greenwich!" When Ned starts to turn away, the guy says, "Don't turn your back on me, Ned!

"Let's keep this civil for the last five days of the campaign," Ned says, and he starts making his way among the Lieber kids, shaking their hands again.

The big bald guy is right in my face now. I ask him where he's from, what his role is here, and he shouts and wags his finger and demands my credentials, yelling to the crowd that I'm not a legitimate reporter and I must be with Ned. Suddenly, I realize the goal here is to provoke Ned into overreacting on-camera. And if not him, then someone on his staff. And it's working; I want badly to take a swing at this lunatic, and I'm not even on the campaign. I flash back to yesterday and the Banana Man and the thug yelling at Tom Swan, "Hit me! Do it!"

...and again, here's a videocip of Goodstein and the goon's in action days after the Ted's incident (pay attention to the reporter who questions Goodstein about the Ted's incident).

Goodstein's name was not listed on Lieberman's FEC filing. You think Goodstein came up from D.C. to Connecticut to support Lieberman out fo the kindness of his heart? How much was he paid to put on the freakshow?

Here's a list of Lieberman filed during that time period.

7/27 - Petty Cash / Stipend Volunteers - $32,500
8/02 - Petty Cash / Stipend Volunteer Payment - $67,500
8/04 - Petty Cash / Stipend Volunteers - $135,000

How was this money spent? Where Lieberman's staff walking around cities with suitcases FULL OF CASH and if so, why wasn't this reported (remember, only their lodging and transportation WAS reported, not the insame amount of petty cash they had on them).

The Lieberman camp are trying to cover their tracks and the voters of Connecticut deserve the truth. It's just a matter of time...