Over in the Legislative District 29 Seven-Way Super-Slam, where seven Democrats are vying for two House seats, Ephraim Cruz has gone on the attack against Daniel Patterson over whether Patterson has properly reported a couple hundred dollars worth of Web-hosting fees to Clean Elections.
Watergate, this ain’t.
The charges against Patterson were first aired in ScrambleWatch’s Muckracker’s Challenge, which encouraged ScrambleWatch readers to dig up campaign-finance irregularities in online reports. The mysterious Christine L. accused Patterson of improperly accounting for bumper stickers and the cost of his campaign Web site.
On his blog, Cruz has declared “it is our responsibility to investigate these claims. If verified, these discrepancies would seriously violate the rules (and spirit) of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission (CCEC) and its public financing system, and should be brought to the attention of the voters.”
The Cruz investigation reveals that Patterson has not yet accounted for the cost of his Web site.
Based on the fact that Mr. Patterson’s website was purchased prior to Mr. Patterson’s declaration of his candidacy, the cost of the website falls under the definition of a contribution (see ARS-16-901.5) and should have been reported by Mr. Patterson as an in-kind donation from himself to his campaign (subject to his personal and family contribution limit of $610) on his financial disclosure form submitted at the time of his campaign launch date.
While Mr. Patterson’s financial disclosure form is not available online, Mr. Patterson reports the maximum $610 personal and family contribution on his January 31 report (all donated as cash), indicating that the cost of his campaign website was not disclosed as an in-kind donation from himself to his campaign when he launched his run for office. The absence of any reporting of the costs of Mr. Patterson’s website is an egregious violation of the Citizens Clean Elections Commission policies.
Accountability matters. When Mr. Patterson hid the cost of his website (his only tangible campaign advertisement for voters for the eight to nine months prior to his Clean Elections funding) he gave himself an over two-hundred dollar advantage over every other candidate. This is no different than hiding the cost of campaign literature or hiding the cost of campaign radio ads. All of us deserve an explanation from Mr. Patterson regarding his decision not to report his campaign website. Everyone else with a campaign website in this race has done so.
This strikes us as the sort of assault that Patterson will not take lying down. We’ll let you know if/when he responds.
We think the whole affair says more about the chickenshit nature of the Clean Elections program more than anything else. (And as far as we’re concerned, the real Clean Elections story in the Seven-Way Super-Slam is that incumbent Rep. Tom Prezelski still hasn’t gotten his funding, even though early voting starts this week.)
By the way: We were unable to award the grand prize of four Sidewinders tickets in the Muckraker’s Challenge because none of the participants who dug anything interesting up used their real names.