From the David Boling For Congress camp today we get the following statement:
The Wills campaign did not disclose more than $2000 in fees to the Democratic fundraising website ActBlue, and it failed to memo contributions received from the site. Moreover, it did not memo or itemize its debt obligation to American Express. In addition, the campaign did not memo or itemize its corporate contributions. It also appears the Wills campaign received a contribution from a company that was dissolved in 2008.
‘The role of money in politics has contributed to the lack of confidence many Arkansans have in the entire process,’ said Boling. ‘Whether it is sloppiness or worse in filing FEC forms by the Wills campaign, people are tired of candidates failing to live up to the ethical standards that govern our elections.’
I think it is notable that Boling has apparently stopped short of actually filing a complaint against Wills with the FEC. Such complaints are far from rare; in the last Presidential campaign, for example, the DNC filed one against John McCain and the RNC filed one against Barack Obama to name but a few. Part of the reason these complaints are so common is because anyone can file one. From the FEC website:
Any person may file a complaint if he or she believes a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Laws or Commission regulations has occurred or is about to occur. The complaint must be made in writing and sent to the Office of General Counsel, Federal Election Commission, 999 E Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20463. The original must be submitted along with three copies, if possible. Facsimile or e-mail transmissions are not acceptable. A complaint must comply with certain requirements. It must:
- Provide the full name and address of the person filing the complaint (called the complainant); and
- Be signed, sworn to and notarized. This means that the notary public’s certificate must say “…signed and sworn to before me…,” or words that connote the complaint was affirmed by the complainant, (such as “under penalty of perjury”).
Furthermore, in order for a complaint to be considered complete and proper, it should:
- Clearly recite the facts that show specific violations under the Commission’s jurisdiction (citations to the law and regulations are not necessary);
- Clearly identify each person, committee or group that is alleged to have committed a violation (called the respondent);
- Include any documentation supporting the allegations, if available; and
- Differentiate between statements based on the complainant’s (the person who files the complaint) personal knowledge and those based on information and belief. Statements not based on personal knowledge should identify the source of the information.
I’m not real thrilled with Boling’s move here. If, as he implies, Boling is one of those who are “tired of candidates failing to live up to the ethical standards that govern our elections,” his failure to actually file a complaint based on these allegations is somewhat puzzling. If he is certain enough about the claims that he would put out a statement, one would hope he would also be certain enough that he could file a complaint. After all, the former merely disguises negative campaigning as concern; only the latter might actually address the underlying problem by dissuading other candidates from making these omissions.