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Ernest Powell: Did Ashley Madison Lead To Federal Campaign Finance Violations?

By Greg L | 25 August 2015 | DPVA, Virginia Politics, Crime, Virginia Senate | 2 Comments

Ernest W. Powell is a Democrat running for the Virginia Senate in the 11th District.  I found his name in the Ashley Madison database dump as I was looking up candidates and elected officials in the Richmond area today, and what surprised me more was the email address listed on the transaction record for his two credit card purchases: ewp1@powellforva.com.  While it’s not unusual to see someone use an email address that your wife won’t likely see when you’re trying to buy “credits” on the “life is short - have an affair” website, what is unusual is to see a candidate for office start using his campaign’s financial account to do so.

Powell ran twice - unsuccessfully of course - for Congress in the 7th District in 2012 and 2014.  He established the “powellforva.com” domain in 2011 to support that run and used the “team@powellforva.com” email as the main contact for his campaign, and had “wayne@powellforva.com” as the public contact for him.  The “ewp1@powellforva.com” seems to have been the email for internal use and doesn’t seem to appear on public websites.   By all appearances, the powellforva.com domain was for official campaign business, and it doesn’t seem to relate to anything but that.  According to financial disclosures, the campaign operated out of a residence at 104 Durrington Place, Richmond VA 23236.

Now when Powell used a credit card to buy “credits” on Ashley Madison so he could use those credits to send messages to people he could have an affair with, I’m sure the last thing he wanted to do was have the credit card statement show up at his house and be seen by his wife.  Had he used his own personal credit card, it would be most likely that the email address associated with it would be a personal email address and not his internal campaign email account.  One would have plenty of reason to suspect at this point that the account that paid for these credits wasn’t a personal account, but the Powell campaign account as the email matches his campaign account, and so does the billing address.  This is what they might call in law enforcement circles “probable cause.”

What do the campaign finance reports filed with the FEC show?  Not a thing of course.  Neither the 12/12/2012 payment for $68.00 or the 12/21/2012 payment for $19.00 appear in the campaign finance disclosures.  If he in fact used his campaign finance account, failure to disclose the expenses would be a federal crime, subject to civil penalties and in some cases imprisonment.

It would be a pretty simple thing for law enforcement to audit Powell’s campaign accounts to see if any payments were made to “ADL Media Inc.” on those dates in order to determine whether a federal crime has been committed.  Let’s see if law enforcement authorities have any interest in doing their jobs to spend the couple hours that this would take, or whether as we’ve so often seen, political crimes to them aren’t worth the trouble to investigate at all.

The following might help them get started, if they’re inclined to do the right thing:

account account_name amount auth_code avs brand card_ending cvd first_name last_name merchant_trans_id option_code transdate txn_id conf_no error_code auth_type type txt_city txt_country txt_email txt_phone txt_state txt_addr1 txt_addr2 zip consumer_ip
99973132 ADL Media Inc - TDS 68.00 002750 N VI [redacted] M 16848856 ERNEST W. POWELL 4319455 2012-12-02 21:30:16 735988960 735988960 Undefined Authorizations Richmond US EWP1@POWELLFORVA.COM VA 104 Durrington Place 23236 173.53.66.141
99973132 ADL Media Inc - TDS 68.00 002750 N VI [redacted] M 16848856 ERNEST W. POWELL 4319455 2012-12-02 21:30:17 735988960 735988960 Undefined Settlements Richmond US EWP1@POWELLFORVA.COM VA 104 Durrington Place 23236 173.53.66.141
99973132 ADL Media Inc - TDS 19.00 021930 N VI [redacted] 16848856 ERNEST W. POWELL 4406737 2012-12-21 11:47:20 800169130 800169130 Undefined Authorizations Richmond US EWP1@POWELLFORVA.COM VA 104 Durrington Place 23236
99973132 ADL Media Inc - TDS 19.00 021930 N VI [redacted] 16848856 ERNEST W. POWELL 4406737 2012-12-21 11:47:20 800169130 800169130 Undefined Settlements Richmond US EWP1@POWELLFORVA.COM VA 104 Durrington Place 23236


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2 Comments

  1. Maureen said on 25 Aug 2015 at 6:46 pm:
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    What the hell is wrong with people?

  2. Ashley Who? said on 25 Aug 2015 at 7:42 pm:
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    Actually, you don’t need a lawman to initiate a complaint with the Federal Election Commission. All you need is a notary. The instructions for filing a complaint are found here: http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/complain.shtml.

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