Dems Silent on Brown Super PAC Coordination
Let us take you back to July, when Mark wrote the following:
According to Politico, Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) is scheduled to appear alongside House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to introduce a constitutional amendment to overturn Supreme Court decisions in the Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC cases. Another Maryland congressman, Rep. Jon Sarbanes, penned a Washington Post oped with Pelosi bemoaning the “grievous error” Citizens United and introduced a bill that would also restrict speech rights and freedom of association.
The Democratically sponsored amendment would give Congress the power to regulate the raising and spending of campaign funds, including the amount spent by outside groups. Tom Udall (D-NM) introduced a similar bill in the Senate, S.J. 19 co-sponsored by Maryland senators Barbara Mikulski and Ben Cardin.
Democratic members of Maryland’s congressional delegation are seeking to radically alter the first amendment to give Congress the power to censor political speech and criminalize issue advocacy.
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Let us fast forward to today, where not only did Senators Mikulski and Cardin vote against your right to free speech, but the Democrats use of a Super PAC is a front and center issue in the Governor’s race.
The campaign of Larry Hogan, a Republican businessman running for governor in Maryland, has filed a complaint with state elections officials alleging that his opponent’s campaign inappropriately coordinated with an independent expenditure-only committee that is largely funded by labor unions.
These committees, better known as Super PACs, can collect as much money as they want from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, and then spend that money advocating for a candidate or cause. But Super PACs are not allowed to strategically coordinate and cooperate with the candidates and their campaigns — something that has been difficult for many states to define and police.
Of course illegal coordination between a Super PAC and a campaign seems like a reasonably hard thing to prove. However, it really isn’t when one of the fundraising consultants of the “One State, One Future” PAC also has one of the PAC’s beneficiaries as a client:
Hogan’s team believes that the campaign of Democratic nominee Anthony G. Brown has violated the law because one of its financial consultants — Colleen Martin-Lauer, who has raised money for several prominent Maryland Democrats — has also worked for “One State, One Future,” a Super PAC based in Maryland that received nearly all of its money from unions. Hogan’s campaign also drew attention to a financial consultant who worked for Ken Ulman, Brown’s running mate, and the Super PAC.
“A fundraising coordinator working for multiple entities is implicitly acting in a ‘coordinated’ fashion because of such an individual’s unique knowledge concerning the contribution limits encountered by potential and existing contributors,” Steve Crim, Hogan’s campaign manager, wrote in a complaint dated Sept. 4 and shared with reporters on Monday. “Finance consulting is not a ministerial role in a campaign. To be effective, it requires intimate knowledge of campaign strategy, timelines, and research.”
Crim called Martin-Lauer’s dual positions a “blatant example of illegal coordination” because “it is simply impossible” for her to coordinate fundraising for both entities and not coordinate her efforts. Martin-Lauer did not respond to a request for comment.
Yeah, I’m real surprised that Colleen Martin-Lauer has nothing to say on the issue.
Martin-Lauer is not the only shared consultant between the two groups. The most recent Campaign Finance reports for both the One State, One Future PAC and the Friends of Anthony Brown campaign account sow that Susan M Smith-Bauk was paid by both groups: $10,000 from the PAC, and $32,500 (in the span of less than two months) from the Brown campaign. This included a $10,000 from the PAC and a $6,500 payment from the Brown campaign on the same day, June 27th.
Smith-Bauk has also had the aforementioned Ken Ulman as a client for quite some time. In total, Smith-Bauk has received nearly $500,000 in compensation from either Brown or Ulman since 2007. Hardly somebody who does not have a vested interest in the outcome or the ability to coordinate her PAC activities and her campaign activities.
This type of coordination is serious. Doug Gansler filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections after the primary to no avail. But this issue is not going to way and even Barry Rascovar, hardly a friend to conservatives, noted that the complaint has merit.
To bring this issue full circle, there has been a bit of silence on the issue. Oddly enough Barbara Mikulski, Ben Cardin, and Donna Edwards have not publicly commented about the coordination between Brown’s campaign and the Super PAC. The leading champions of overturning Citizens United have turned a blind eye to the coordination done right in their home state, right under their nose, and in support of the nominee of their party.
That Democrats are hypocrites on this issue is not news to anybody.
The real question is our local reporters and why they aren’t asking Senator Cardin, Senator Mikulski, Representative Edwards and other Democrats about the coordination between the Our State, Our Future PAC and the Brown campaign. Ask them if they think that this kind of coordination and sharing of resources is legal. And ask them if they condemn those involved for trying to buy the election for Brown using this kind of “shady” money.
The reporters from the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, and other media outlets owe it to the people to ask Maryland Democrats if they actually believe their own rhetoric on SuperPACs. We’re waiting……