Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Koch gets Kraus on Campaign Ethics Issue **


Councilman Bruce Kraus, campaigning now to defend his South Side seat, accepted contributions over the legal limits he helped to enact -- but seems to have found a way around that, even having months ago declared his intentions in doing so to the County Elections Board.

Rebuffed by the elections department, the Koch camp is filing an ethics complaint against Kraus and may file a Common Pleas Court complaint, as the ordinance also allows, campaign manager Tim Brinton said. (P-G Early Returns, Tim McNulty)


Kraus's campaign manager is quoted as arguing that the code is silent on this matter of what we will now call "Paying-it-Forward".

*-UPDATE: Looks like Kraus isn't the only one. Two other Council incumbents are in that boat, reports the CP Slag Heap's Chris Potter.

**-UPDATE II: Perhaps more. It will take some time to settle the "good faith confusion".

*-FOOTNOTE: Was I being political? Judge for yourself -- author disclaimers in comment #7.

**-UPDATE III:
Kraus sends out a response (although now it looks like it was a response to far more).

28 comments:

  1. zzzzz

    When you are Jeff Koch you have to resort to stuff like this.

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  2. After the wringer he was put through four years ago, any opponent of Jeff Koch deserves their own few days in the skillet of accountability. Kraus's inventive maneuver casts the whole idea of local campaign finance reform -- of politicians regulating themselves -- in an insipid light. A lot of folks poured a lot of their self-righteous energies into those reforms, which were meant to be lasting.

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  3. Looks like you boy Burgess was in bed with the List-Makers the whole time.

    Given your support for the lease and your recent posts, it seems that you are in that camp as well....

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  4. I make my own camp. I stuck a tent peg in the ground at campaign finance reform 3 years ago. (I had another one once upon a time in "ethics reform," but that one kept getting flooded away...)

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  5. Not Backing DownMay 5, 2011 at 1:55 AM

    Pay-it-forward?
    How about pay it back, Bruce?
    The only proper thing to do is return the illegal money back to the donor - if they want to contribute after May 18th, so be it. The fact remains Bruce Kraus is breaking the law.

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  6. This is the same Bram that has always carried Rev's flag and still denies that Burgess hates gays.

    Ask ANYONE in the gay community who pays attention to local politics what they think about Burgess. The guy is a homophobe. He is always the only one missing from ads in magazines when Council takes one out for Pride Week....why is that?

    You should be able to text or call your good friend Shawn Carter, Burgess staff member, for that answer. Since one of your readers is asking then why don't you find out for me?

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  7. Setting aside that off-topic item and moving to another one:

    I believe this is an important time to refer to the "Disclaimers" portion of my blog, and note the part reading, "All views expressed in these posts and in my own comments are my own and my own alone, and do not reflect the views of any of my employers, clients, partners or patrons, past or present, real or imagined."

    That is most emphatically and importantly true in the case of this blog post -- being the consultant of Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith that I now am. I apologize if this foray caused any unnecessary intercollegiate stress. Probably wouldn't have written it, were I not still harboring a little guilt for my egging-on of the mob during ShirtGate. Won't happen again.

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  8. Guilty about ShirtGate? Please.

    If you are going to feel guilt, you should feel it because of your support for the greasy-palmed preacher.

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  9. Interesting subject matter...very interesting. Also, intercollegiate stress isn't always universally cared about in that council. Only at times it seems...

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  10. ...I will say, as somebody who lives in District 2, I can attest that Councilwoman Smith does try to curb nasty interplay with council members and their office staff thereby alleviating stress, but again, things still fall apart.

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  11. Troll Alert. You decent folk might want to clear out of the saloon.

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  12. Interesting choice of words. Clearing decent folks out....

    A Freudian slip perhaps?

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  13. graduatestudent1May 5, 2011 at 10:26 PM

    I think commenting on this sort of issue always going to be viewed as political, especially since your post title contains the word "gets", while its not completely certain Kraus violated the letter, or even the spirit of the campaign finance reform, and especially since all of the incumbents ( with the possible exception of the "greasy palmed preacher") are being accused of doing it.

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  14. graduatestudent1 - Agreed, as to the letter. We could debate the spirit of the law for hours, but if someone gives me $2000, I might be twice as appreciative of (indebted to?) that person as I would be of a $1000 donor, and I might plan to secure a desperately needed loan of an extra $1000 for my campaign, repayable during the general election cycle.

    I don't think this will be our last swipe at CFR, and I'm interested in what would eventually become of a Common Pleas case on this matter. I trust the city Ethics board would hold him rightfully harmless.

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  15. Off topic they may be but why don't you answer the Burgess stuff?

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  16. what was the intent of the law...to limit the $ value on contributions during a fixed period...now all those councilors knew what the law stated, what it meant and how it was interpreted...playing fast and loose with their own FRB certainly doesn't give me that warm all over feeling!!!

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  17. Did anyone notice that two of the names on the complaint were big time Republicans? Howard & Allison Berger!

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  18. Since Bram's employer has been brought into this, I'll note that Ms. Smith has also received a contribution in excess of the law's limits. On Jan. 7, 2010 -- just days after the law went into effect -- she received a $2,500 contribution from the political committee affiliated with IBEW Local No. 5.

    I originally didn't look up the councilors from even-numbered districts because they aren't running this year. But Smith would otherwise appear to be in the same boat as Harris and Co.

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  19. Idle question: Is this type of limit constitutional by the current Supreme Court ruling?

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  20. An addendum to my previous comment: It appears that that the Smith campaign filed this contribution under the wrong year. IBEW Local 5 made the check out in December, 2009 -- but I gather it was not deposited until after the new year, and the Smith camp identified it as being made on Jan. 7.

    I actually can't find any language in election law that says when a contribution is "made" -- is it when the check is dated? When it is actually deposited? In any case, there's a strong argument that this contribution would not fall under the purview of the new requirements.

    But I first waded into this by saying Kraus has a strong argument too. And this just points up the broader questions surrounding implementation here.

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  21. MH - I don't know, that's a good question. Another reason I'd be interested in what happens if this ball of wax ever makes it to a court of law.

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  22. Hey Chris Potter, thanks for clarifying the fact that you really know nothing about the dates and times when Smith recieved that check. What's the point of the intial attack/ final addendum, when you still go back to your "original" point being that Kraus has a strong argument. Apparently he doesn't if youre going to equate his doings with other council members who didn't show proof of violating the rule at question here. Pick a point, or claim your bias--because youre all over the dialogue map.( I'm "decent folk" who hangs out under bridges at times!)

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  23. @ anonymous 1:03 a.m. (!)

    It's a fair question. Just reading these comments, without reference to the posts Bram linked to, probably DOES make it sound like I was out to get Smith. But I think my point actually has been very consistent.

    My argument all along has been: a) Kraus has reason to think candidates can "double up" on contributions, because the law regulates donations "per election"; and b) if you disagree with that reading, then Kraus isn't the only city councilor whose 2010 reports could raise a red flag.

    As Bram's post notes, I also found, and blogged about, potentially problematic contributions in the reports of Darlene Harris and Patrick Dowd. And, once I turned to candidates NOT up for re-election, I found a red-flag contribution -- again, as Koch would describe it -- in the reports of Theresa Smith.

    I've spoken to Smith about the contribution, and she herself was hazy on the dates concerning this check. (Understandably so, considering this was more than a year ago.) Further investigation showed the contributor, IBEW Local No. 5, lists the check as being made Dec. 28, 2009. But Smith's campaign apparently didn't deposit it until 2010. And by that time, the new contributions limits had gone into effect.

    If I was running against Smith, I might argue that Smith either ran afoul of state law -- by not reporting the contribution as a 2009 gift -- or the city ordinance, by running afoul of the 2010 limits. After all, by law a campaign is required to correctly identify the date of contributions made to it -- and it's Smith's team that cited the 2010 date.

    But state law isn't clear whether a contribution is "made": Is it when a check is dated, or when it is actually deposited? It wouldn't even matter, except the newfangled law went into effect Jan. 1. And in any case, I'd give the same benefit of the doubt I gave to Kraus. Even if this contribution SHOULD be governed by those rules, I don't see a scandal in candidates taking what Bram calls the "pay it forward" approach.

    Again, I wasn't setting out to "get" Smith. I found this contribution in the context of seeing who ELSE had 2010 contributions that, if Koch's reading of the law held sway, could run afoul of the rules.
    These are arguments about the timing of contributions -- and I think Kraus, Smith, et al are being tripped up by wrinkles in implementing and interpreting a new ordinance. Smith was caught in a weird time-warp, and filed a puzzling report. Kraus, for his part, went out of his way to notify county officials of contributions that would have to be off-limits for the primary. In either case, I don't see an attempt to deceive -- just fumbling with a new law.

    Hope this helps. Sorry it was so long.

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  24. Dually noted--thanks for clearing up your angle, even if it did come in the form of excess verbiage! LOL, hopefully this becomes less vague a process so that it can't become more mud to sling during elections, then, maybe councilmen and councilwomen will be able to focus more on what their plan is for thier respective district.

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  25. This is just one more example of the hypocrisy of the so called progressives on council. They are more blood thirsty for revenge against anyone who supports the Mayor than any of the Mayor's people. They break more campaign rules than any of the Mayoral allies and cause more division in our City. But hey, they are doing it for the right reasons, right?

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  26. Didn't you know, they read the book called: "Progressive Bodies, Regressive Souls"...I don't think it was a best seller though...

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  27. Are you aware that the Law Department has thrown out the ethics complaint that Koch filed against Kraus?

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  28. Anon 4:07 5/13 - No, I wasn't aware. The Law Dept. can throw out Ethics complaints? This is new info to me.

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