Saturday, January 19, 2008

Five Thousand, Five Million -- It's All the Same to Fischer

Page One, the blog on which Andrew Horne announced his candidacy, has been bird-dogging Greg Fischer about apparent violations of federal campaign law. Even the Courier Journal noticed when the Republicans filed a complaint about Fischer's alleged violations. In fact, the violations appear to be even more egregious than Page One originally reported.

The issue turns on whether Fischer's campaign crossed the $ 5,000 threshold -- the point at which Fischer was required to declare his candidacy. As one might expect from a millionaire, Fischer did not pinch pennies in launching his campaign.

Page One notes that Fischer's spending -- before he announced -- necessarily included:

time used registering domain names, negotiating hosting contracts, working with web developers, recruiting staff, receiving and managing email. All activities which take a lot of time and would require quite a bit of reimbursement for employee wages on top of equipment usage. Also included in that $5,000 mark would be all travel expenses for Fischer’s trips to Washington, D.C. and around the state of Kentucky, as he’s apt to mention.

Actually, the list of expenses is even longer. Fischer obviously has used political consultants, such as his spokesperson Kim Gevedon. Those consultant fees count towards the $5,000 spending threshold.

Likewise for Fischer's website, which was designed by the Democrat web firm NGP Software. (Oddly, that's the same firm Andrew Horne uses -- what a conflict of interest). A web site like Fischer's costs approximately $7,500 to launch. In addition, Fischer's web page includes several custom elements, such as his logo and the flag picture, that would cost extra money.

Fischer's website also reflects the extensive use of professional photography, which is expensive in and of itself. In addition, the campaign would need to buy the copyright from the photographer, who typically retains it.

That tediously long video on Fischer's website, moreover, would have cost thousands of dollars to produce.

When all this is added together, it becomes clear that Fischer blew past the $5,000 threshold that triggered the requirement for him to file with the Secretary of the Senate and the FEC. Indeed, just the web site put him over the limit.

Once Fischer fell within the ambit of federal election law, he was precluded from accepting corporate donations. As Page One initially reported, Fischer began running his campaign using his corporation, Dant-Clayton, and its employees. That constitutes a corporate donation.

It's hard to square Fischer's violations of such basic rules with his promise to "fix Washington" with his business savvy and professionalism. So far, his candidacy looks pretty amateur.


Steve Magruder said...

While I don't disagree with the general thesis, the long video of Fischer didn't likely cost thousands of dollars to produce. It was very simple. This could have been done by anyone with today's inexpensive video cameras and video processing software for next to nothing.

Also, it's not necessarily true that copyrighted photos had to be paid for. It's possible that the copyright owner has granted Fischer the right to use the images for free.

MaryS said...

It seems that Fischer's "Kentucky values" did not take with his brother, who has taken President Bush fishing on his television show.