Claims, charges and counter-charges are flying thick and fast between those involved in the FEC complaint filed against the 10th District committee, and keeping up with this while maintaining some perspective is a real challenge. In a nutshell, we have a situation that wasn’t great to begin with made tremendously worse which is devolving the 10th District back into the kind of crazy infighting that was a hallmark of the Jim Rich era. When Loudoun County is the center of gravity of a Congressional District, I suppose it’s to be expected that there’s going to be plenty of drama.
I have tremendous respect for the vast majority of people involved in this which makes this episode particularly difficult for me, and I’m sure others as well. While I have no use for the likes of the conjuring Anna Lee, people like Howie Lind, Tom Whitmore, Shak Hill and the rest involved are terrific and I have no doubt that their motives have been pure and intentions entirely honorable. Despite that, a series of strategic and tactical mistakes on their collective parts have turned this into a mess that will fully challenge their skills and abilities as they eventually try to put all the pieces back together here. We’ll get to that point eventually, but it’s going to be a difficult journey to get there.
Back during the Jim Rich era it wasn’t unusual for the 10th District Committee to not file campaign finance reports. That happened about twenty times as far as I can tell, and the FEC didn’t seem to particularly care about it much. I can’t find any instances of the FEC assessing fines on the Committee previously, and no one seemed to get enough of a burr in their saddle to file any FEC complaints then.
After the untimely death of the treasurer of the 10th District Commitee a few months back it became clear that Charles Proctor’s shoes were not going to be easy to fill. It took months to fill the position, and clearly there’s a learning curve about filing campaign finance reports correctly, as somehow disbursements weren’t reported for months. Many of those reports have been amended to fix problems, but there’s apparently a lot more information that needs to be corrected. Tom Whitmore started going on the warpath about the problem out of a concern that inaccurate FEC filings could result in penalties being assessed, but for some reason those concerns weren’t resolved. Knowing the personalities involved this is utterly uncharacteristic, as I have no doubt that if I raised any concerns I had with any of them they’d be more than happy to help resolve them, but in this instance it seems a conflict developed instead of a resolution.
Leaders are ultimately responsible for what their subordinates do, or fail to do. Despite the explanations, responsibility for any inaccurate filings — and it’s pretty clear there have been problems to some degree — fall on Howie and it’s up to him to get that resolved. I hope he does that as quickly as possible, and am pretty certain that he will.
Instead of getting RPV involved to help foster a solution internally, Whitmore filed what he terms a “friendly” and “confidential” complaint with the FEC, and then informed RPV that’s what he was doing. I don’t fault him at all for trying to address the issue, but the method here seems utterly ill-advised. There is nothing “friendly” about a complaint to the FEC, and there’s vanishingly little chance anything filed with a government agency charged with compliance is ever going to be “confidential.” The whole idea that running immediately to the Obama Administration to resolve a problem within a committee you’re a member of is going to garner any kind of confidential leniency is utterly implausible. It may be a case of just utterly terrible judgment, but I suspect something else might be going on here.
Anna Lee notarized Whitmore’s FEC complaint which is obviously not a coincidence. Anna is running to replace Howie Lind and despite her stolid silence about the consistent failure to comply with campaign finance law when her cabal was running the show, now that she and her Jim Rich types are on the outs she’s been beating the drum about campaign finance reporting issues to friendly bloggers for months now. It’s not as if Tom Whitmore decided that in order to get a notary he felt his best option was to drive all the way out to Fairfax to find someone who coincidentally was running for 10th District Chairman. No, it’s pretty likely that this whole thing was Anna Lee’s idea in the first place, and Tom was just a convenient vehicle for her to use in causing trouble for her political adversaries. Whitmore is somewhat legendary for getting on the warpath about something and being utterly dedicated to that fight, and Anna Lee probably had just the right fight for him to engage in and knew he could be manipulated into doing it for her.
I feel sick that my friend Tom Whitmore ended up in this mess. I wish he’d thought this through more before he pulled the trigger on this, as I suspect the fallout on this could end up not helping this dedicated and quite talented operations warrior. Given the stream of emails and calls going out, I suspect that it’s been pretty difficult for him.
Now that this is in the hands of the FEC, it’s hard to tell what’s going to happen. Likely there will be a fine assessed (with this Administration, rulings like this against political opponents don’t seem to actually require evidence), and that extra expense isn’t going to help especially when it’s coming right around election time when every dollar really counts. As far as scandals go, this is pretty tame and of little interest to anyone who isn’t a political junkie, but bringing the Obama Administration into this is something you don’t need to be a political junkie to understand. Howie allowed mistakes to be made on campaign finance reports. Ho hum. Tom sicced the Federal Elections Commission on fellow Republicans. Hmmm.
There will doubtless be a bunch of lessons to be learned from this episode, but we don’t have to wait until this wraps up to start learning now. One is that district committees have problems complying with campaign finance reporting requirements and RPV needs to step into this gap and make sure they get the help they need to navigate these regulations. Second is that when you have an “insider baseball” kind of problem you will never, ever be able to keep it confidential if you disclose that information to outside parties. That’s even when a friendly federal regulator is telling you how sure, we’ll keep things confidential if you spill the beans to us on those hateful Republicans engaged in a war against women and our dear friend Hugo Chavez, and we’ll even go easy on you for snitching. You’ll only get one year in the gulag, while those you rat out will be there for life!
Lastly, don’t ever get involved with a witch. They’ll simply ruin your life.
The opinions expressed here are solely the views of the author, and not representative of the position of any organization, political party, doughnut shop, knitting guild, or waste recycling facility, but may be correctly attributed to the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. If anything in the above article has offended you, please click here to receive an immediate apology.
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