For the sake of transparency, I’m admitting I made a mistake.
Or did I? I’d like to know what you think.
I filed my first complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC). I normally focus on state and local issues, but occasionally delve into federal issues if I feel it’s warranted, and in this case, I felt it was.
So for background, I received a tip through our Whistleblower Window that a congressional candidate received a $100,000 loan to the campaign from the candidate’s spouse. This is a clear violation of federal law . Being mostly a one-man show, it took me a week or so to research, seek advice and pull the complaint together.
So here is the result of that effort – the FEC complaint I filed against Nicole Rodden for Congress, Inc., Nicole Rodden (candidate), Robert Rodden (spouse) and Paul Kilgore (campaign treasurer). I mailed this complaint using the US Postal Service (which is surprisingly the way you file an FEC complaint). It includes a link to Rodden’s 2019 July Quarterly Report showing the $100,000 loan to the campaign from Robert Rodden.
Now, I worked on it off and on for a couple of weeks, as it often takes me at least several days to prepare such a complaint as essentially a one-person show. This was my first FEC complaint, so I took a little longer to prepare it.
This is where my potential mistake was made, during the time I was preparing the complaint, the campaign amended the report to say the loan came from Mrs. Rodden, not Mr. Rodden, in theory, making the loan legal.
Admittedly, since time had passed, I should have checked for an amended report before filing. I’ll chalk it up as a lesson learned, but still believe that a $100,000 mistake should not only be corrected, but proven that it is correct. If it is, then truth and transparency prevail. Perhaps I end up looking foolish for pushing it, but I’d rather look foolish than give up on what could have been a violation of federal law.
So back to the details. As I normally do, I sent an email to the campaign that I filed the complaint against as a courtesy. I also notify a member or members of the media who may be interested in the story because I believe news coverage is the brightest light of transparency.
The response to my email came from the Rodden campaign’s attorney, Doug Chalmers. This is when I learned that the campaign had filed the amended report changing the source of the loan from Mr. Rodden to Mrs. Rodden. This correction came only after the RFAI from the FEC. This email also requested that I withdraw the complaint, and threatened action against me if I continued to say the campaign accepted a loan from Mr. Rodden.
My response to that email was to request any proof by means of documentation provided to the FEC that the funds truly came from Mrs. Rodden, as well as an explanation of how the mistake was made.
My request was denied, apparently because I am “more interested in publicity than fairness”. Mr. Chalmers said the FEC “will end up publicly confirming” that bank records will back up their response. I followed up, simply saying it should be easy, and in everyone’s best interest to prove the funds were Mrs. Rodden’s. I have not heard back from the campaign at the time of publishing this blog.
So, I called the FEC, several times and spoke with several departments. I found out that IF bank records were submitted, they would not be part of the public record. I could not get a definite answer as to whether or not they would confirm that bank records were received.
In the end, I don’t feel I have to see the bank records, BUT, I do want to know that the FEC did, and that the FEC confirmed the funds are indeed Mrs. Rodden’s. I honestly feel that since a mistake was made involving $100,000 (not just $100), and it was only corrected after a regulatory authority requested more information, that the proof should be made public, or at the very least, some form of proof that the FEC confirmed the source of the funds.
So at this point, I think I am going to send a follow-up letter to the FEC explaining such, and I will not withdraw the complaint unless the campaign is willing to show proof that the funds are Mrs. Rodden’s.
But first, I want to know what you think. Should I push on, or just be satisfied with the campaign’s response? Please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment on facebook.