What Fresh Hell Is This?

July 24, 2008

William Russell

Last night on KDKA I heard John Steigerwald interview Peg Luksik, William Russell's campaign manager. Russell's running against Representative John Murtha (D-PA).

They raved at this news:

A JAW-dropping political miracle may be on the horizon. No, I'm not talking about the second coming of the Obamessiah. I'm talking about the long-deserved comeuppance of troop-smearing, pork-feasting, scandal-tainted Democratic Rep. Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania.

The 18-term congressman's challenger, staunch conservative Republican newcomer William Russell, raised nearly $670,000 in the second quarter. Earmark king Murtha scraped together a measly $119,000.

And they danced the standard anti-Murtha dance; Abscam, Haditha, Congressional Pork and so on.

Turns out that the numbers might not be as peachy as Frau Malkin ranted. According to Talking Points Memo, Russell's been using a firm called BMW Direct for its fundraising.

The Boston Globe had a good piece on BMW Direct. The piece is about a candidate running against Barney Frank, a guy named Charles Morse.

Yet the political fund-raising firm that ran Morse's campaign finances reported that it raised more than $700,000 for his race, much of it from GOP contributors across the country eager to help defeat a Massachusetts liberal - and some of it donated well after Morse abandoned the race.

A review of campaign reports shows that, rather than spending that money in the Fourth Congressional District, 96 percent of the funds raised in Morse's name were used to pay a politically connected direct-mail firm in Washington, BMW Direct Inc., and a coterie of BMW Direct's affiliates and contractors. The firms specialize in national fund-raising appeals on behalf of conservative Republican candidates and right-wing causes.

Talking Points Memo has a rundown on Russell's finances:

In the most recent quarter Russell raised $669,534, almost all from out-of-state donors who presumably are on BMW Direct's list of self-styled conservatives with a good track record of responding to direct-mail fundraising.

At the same time, he spent $442,990, almost all of it on expenses related to the direct mail effort and paid to BMW Direct and its affiliates (some of which share the same downtown Washington office).

The only expenses that appear to be spent on an actual campaign totaled about $20,000 for Web site design, a low-budget video and a campaign consultant based in Pennsylvania rather than Washington.

He reports having $269,953 in cash on hand. But he also reports debts totaling $242,521 -- almost all for direct mail expenses to BMW Direct and its vendors.
So that leaves him only about $27,431 ahead -- not much for a guy who's raised a total of nearly $1 million this election cycle.

It also turns out that Russell failed to get the necessary signatures to get on the ballot as a Republican. From the Post-Gazette:
Mr. Murtha had faced a challenge from former Army Lt. Col. William Russell, who moved to the Johnstown area so he could run as a Republican. But Commonwealth Court ruled last week that he failed to file the required 1,000 signatures on his nominating petition and removed him from the ballot, clearing the way for Mr. Murtha to run uncontested for his 18th term.
A million dollars raised for a candidate not on the ballot. SOP for BMW Direct


Anonymous said...

So, BMW direct's philosophy of conservatism seems to boil down to "When in doubt, eat a smaller, weaker member of your group in order to sustain yourselves for a little while longer."

I'd find it all a little poignant if it wasn't for the giant wave of schadenfreude washing over me at the moment. :)

- Shawn

Fillippelli the Cook said...

Murtha's saving grace is that he almost singlehandedly changed the direction of how the war in Iraq was viewed. I really do see his speaking out as a massive turning point.

That said, while I'm sure he's done a number of good things in his long-ass time in Congress, I still find him to be quite reprehensible. His love of pork, his willingness to take millions of tax-payer, dollars for projects in his district that don't produce squat for the American taxpayer represents everything that is wrong with our current Congress.

Conyers is another. Four rent-controlled apartments in Harlem? Again, the guy has done good things while in Congress, but the sense of entitlement these guys get is just beyond me. In my D.C. days, I occasionally had to attend congressional hearings and I was always struck by the tone many legislators would take with those testifying. Half the time these guys had no idea what they were even talking about, but that wouldn't stop them from speaking to somebody testifying in good conscience with pure contempt in their voice.

There are those who come before Congress - like the EPA administrator, for example - who deserve to be spoken too with nothing but scorn... heck, who deserve to spend some time in the clink for their contempt of Congress, but I for one cannot wait for dinos like Conyers and Murtha to go away, and hopefully be replaced by progressive legislators who never forget why they are there in the first place.

cathcatz said...

dayvoe, bless yu heart for even listening to stiegerwald. you deserve a medal.

Big On Jack said...

What John Murtha’s Challenger Doesn’t Want You to Know
More than 85 percent of the money raised by the Russell campaign has come from outside of the 12th Congressional District.
Russell violated military law when he appeared on the Michael Savage Nation, a political talk show, on May 14 while on active duty.
In his commencement address at the Naval Academy in April, Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, "If you are in the U.S. military, stay out of politics.
And as a result of a complaint filed on June 11, 2008, (Case No. MUR 6024) with the Federal Election Commission, Russell is now disclosing receipts, disbursments and banking activites not previously disclosed. (http://fec.gov/finance/disclosure/efile_search.shtml ). The Russell campaign committed clear and egregious violations of Federal election laws. The Russell camp continues their campaign of denial and deception.
The response from Russell’s campaign manager, Peg Luksik, to the filing of the complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) shows that the Russell people were actually worried that their own schemes were going to be publicly exposed, and so they were striking preemptively, trying to "shoot the messenger" as a way of avoiding dealing with the substance of the charges.
The truth has come out, and Russell and Luksik have egg all over their faces, and the voters of the District can see in Russell's FEC disclosures that Stiles was right, that the Russell campaign had a lot to hide.
Russell may have gotten his wish when he got enough write-in votes to make the November ballot, but breaking the law will be his worst nightmare.
Given that Russell can’t even manage and properly account for the money he’s raising for his campaign, the 12th Congressional District has zero reason to trust him to provide oversight over the federal budget.
This case illustrates the knowing and willful violations of campaign finance laws. The Russell campaign has brazingly sought to run an off-the-books campaign.

Mark Rauterkus said...

The problem is the media's intoxication with money. To Jon Delano, and to the bulk of the MSM, the amount of money a candidate raises -- or banks -- is newsworthy.

That's crap.

Anyone could put a lot of money into the bank and get good press for the next decade or two. War chest.

Lots of money is flowing from other sources and is no sign of support. I don't ever want to drink from those streams.

And, the money is in and out. That isn't candidate money. Much like PAC money from the Ds and Rs in Harrisburg -- house and senate re-election campaign money -- from gambling interests.

Delano needs to sell soap. That's his job. When he sees a nickle they need to kiss ass.

They do nothing to help solve our problems in the world we all share and live.

The watchdogs are drunk on the wrong things. They have failed us. They failed their industry. They failed their profession. They failed the nation.

Furthermore, they are easy to fool.