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By The Numbers: The MN GOP’s Cooked Books, Part 5

by TwoPuttTommy on January 12, 2012 · 0 comments

In Part 1, we looked at how FEC Tony Sutton’s  MN GOP couldn’t (wouldn’t?) accurately report to the FEC how much they owed a vendor they hired to ensure accurate FEC reports.  In Part 2, we noted there are now 2 citizen watchdog groups looking into the MN GOP’s Cooked Books — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington – which nailed ‘em last time (the MN GOP got smacked with a near-record $170,000 fine), and Common Cause MN.  In Part 3,  we looked at how a payroll deductions “no, NO!” that got the MN GOP in trouble last time seems to be a pattern.  In Part 4 we looked at the MN GOP using a strange address for one of it’s fundraisers.

Today in Part 5 of the continuing Cooked Books Series we’re going to take a look at the official FEC Complaint – filed yesterday – by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (“CREW”).  

CREW Files Second FEC Complaint Against Republican Party of Minnesota
January 11th, 2012

Washington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against the Republican Party of Minnesota (RPM) and its former chairman and treasurer, Anthony Sutton.  The complaint alleges the RPM violated the Federal Election Campaign Act and a conciliation agreement the party signed less than five months ago with the FEC by deliberately hiding its debts from FEC investigators.   Back in 2007, CREW had filed a similar complaint against the RPM, leading the FEC to impose a $170,000 fine last summer.

“The Republican Party of Minnesota’s FEC reports haven’t reflected the party’s actual financial condition for nearly a decade and make a mockery of the public’s right to know,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan.  “There appears to be ample evidence Mr. Sutton, repeatedly lied to FEC investigators for years to achieve the party’s political goals.   Party officials signed a conciliation agreement with the FEC pledging the party would clean up its act and – less than six months later – we discover absolutely nothing has changed.” (more, here)

OK, a little about that $170,000 fine – the MN GOP had to make a $20,000 down payment; it agreed to pay off the remaining $150,000 debt in ten equal installments.  I’m just putting this paragraph in because I enjoy seeing this picture of a GOPer check to the Feds!  I’ll be even happier when I can link to a picture of a MN GOPer doing a perp walk, though….

Back to CREW’s complaint:  

On December 30, 2011, the RPM held a news conference to announce the party had conducted an internal review revealing $2 million in debts, including $415,211 that had never been reported to the FEC. According to party officials, they had been fighting with party treasurer Anthony Sutton over the release of party financial information, but had been unable to obtain the records until Sutton resigned.  As RPM’s treasurer, Sutton appears to have filed false reports with the FEC.

Federal law requires state committees like the RPM to disclose all outstanding debts and obligations.  In addition, knowingly and willfully filing false reports with the FEC is a federal crime.  (more, here)

“…knowlingly and willfully filing false reports with the FEC is a federal crime.”

Bring on the Perp Walk!!!

OK, a little more from/for Part 4 of the continuing Cooked Books Series.  We demonstrated how the MN GOP reported the address of a registered vendor – “Fundraising Assoicates” – as a duplex a few miles away from their actual registered address (“7705 Tanglewood Court“).  We went on to point out that “Fundraising Associates” had it’s registered address appear on a FEC report filed by a Michele Bachmann related entity just around a year earlier, in 2010 (“4035 W. 65th Street“).

While perusing the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board’s 2010 report by the MN GOP, this item jumped out!

Yep!  In 2010, the MN GOP reported to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board the correct address of “Fundraising Associates” – in 2011, they put down an apparently bogus address.

How does that happen?  WHY does that happen?  Was it deliberate?

Let’s go back to CREW’s Melanie Sloan:

“The Republican Party of Minnesota’s FEC reports haven’t reflected the party’s actual financial condition for nearly a decade and make a mockery of the public’s right to know. There appears to be ample evidence Mr. Sutton, repeatedly lied to FEC investigators for years to achieve the party’s political goals.”

“There appears to be ample evidence Mr. Sutton repeatedly lied…”

Yep – sure is! Even on the little stuff, such as where a vendor does business.

Which reminds me of what then-RNC Chair Michael Steele once said:  “You have absolutely no reason – none – to trust our words or our actions at this point.”

Stay tuned – the best is yet to come!

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By The Numbers: The MN GOP’s Cooked Books, Part 4

by TwoPuttTommy on January 9, 2012 · 0 comments

In Part 1, we looked at how FEC Tony’s (pictured, right) MN GOP couldn’t (wouldn’t?) accurately report to the FEC how much they owed a vendor to ensure accurate FEC reports.  In Part 2, we noted there are now 2 citizen watchdog groups looking into the MN GOP’s Cooked Books — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington – which nailed ‘em last time (the MN GOP got smacked with a near-record $170,000 fine), and Common Cause MN.  In Part 3,  we looked at how a payroll deductions “no, NO!” that got the MN GOP in trouble last time seems to be a pattern.  No surprise there!

Today in Part 4 of the continuing Cooked Books Series we’re going to take a look at how a reasonable person has no reason to believe anything a Republican says a vendor and what appears to be a fake address.  While perusing the December 20th, 2011 MN GOP Federal Elections Commission (“FEC”) filing – covering the month of November 2011 –  the following stuck out.  Why?  Because there simply isn’t an address in Minneapolis that has a street number of “7705.”  Let’s look!

(there’s more!)

(link to FEC Report here)

OK, to recap so far:  we know that you can’t believe what Republicans say, ESPECIALLY in FEC reports – after all, on December 20th, 2011 the MN GOP reported they only owed $542,005 when the real number was double that — and possibly closer to a cool $2 million.  And, of course, there’s that $170,000 fine theFEC smacked ‘em with just a few months ago…

So when an address shows up with a street number that can’t possibly be in the city they say, well – that bears some digging into.  And a simple mapquest search shows that that address is NOT in Minneapolis!

We’ll start with the company – “Fundraising Associates” – first.  If you go to the Minnesota Secretary Of State’s office, you’ll find that “Fundraising Associates is in fact a bona fide company.  Except, as noted in the preceeding link, it’s NOT at “7705 Tanglewood Court” – it’s registered at “4035 W 65th Street  #427, Edina MN 55435.”   And it’s registered to a “Zandra Wolcott.”

What type of building is “4035 W 65th Street”?  It’s an apartment building.  OK, no big deal there; a lot of people work out of their homes these days.  But, what is “7705 Tanglewood Court”?  It’s a duplex, smack dab in the middle of a residential area in Edina.

So, why would the MN GOP have a “Payee address” for a company that’s registered and apparently working out of an apartment listed to a duplex some other place?  Hmmm….

… Better check the property tax records!  Here’s what they show:

Owner Name:  Golden Valley Microwave FDS
Taxpayer Name & Address:   Norman M Gabrick, 4910 Malibu Drive, Edina 55346
Homestead Status: Non-Homestead

Who is “Golden Valley Microwave FDS”?  A quick googlesearch indicates that it’s now a subsidiary of ConAgra Foods.

ConAgra Foods??!?  Why is a vendor’s check going to a duplex owned by ConAgra Foods??!?

It’s not like “Fundraising Associates” hasn’t been listed on FEC Reports before… let’s look!

Yep – in 2010, in a “Minnesota-Bachmann Victory Committee” FEC Report, Zandra Wolcott was reported as receiving $25,000 — at the address registered with the MN Secretary Of State.

But now, a year later and now a MN GOP vendor, her checks are being sent to a “non-homestead” (read=”rental”) duplex a couple of miles away from her apartment/registered business address?

Why? Is that duplex just a sham address?  Or is the MN GOP claiming that the money went to Wolcott, but it was really sent to someone else?

Those questions (and more!) I didn’t get to ask Zandra Wolcott.  Here’s the only question I got to ask:

“When you gave your bills to the MN GOP, did you use your business address or an address for a duplex a few miles away from your office?”

I got to ask it, but: no answer.  In an exceedingly short phone conversation, Ms. Wolcott referred me to Pat Shortridge at the MN GOP — and her attorney,  Tony Trimble.

Yes, Tony “Recount” Trimble – the MN GOP lawyer, whose recount bills the MN GOP may try to weasel out of paying.

Say, there’s a plan!  Ask questions about a fishy FEC transaction to a former ENRON lobbyist – now running the MN GOP – and a lawyer that the MN GOP probably owes big bucks to! One can easily assume a response along the lines of “not intended to be a factual statement”, or, perhaps, “I only lied because I had to”

What we know, is there’s (stuff) in the MN GOP’s campaign finance reports that’s simply not true.  

What we don’t know is who put down what appears to be a fake address on an FEC report – the vendor, or the MN GOP?  And why?

And how many OTHER fake addresses has the MN GOP reported to the FEC?

In digging into this one, I’ve been hearing allegations of shell LLC’s and sham addresses, etc that the MN GOP has been reporting.

So stay tuned — the best is yet to come!!!  

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By The Numbers: The MN GOP’s Cooked Books, Part 3

by TwoPuttTommy on January 8, 2012 · 0 comments

In Part 1, we looked at how FEC Tony’s (pictured, right) MN GOP couldn’t (wouldn’t?) accurately report to the FEC how much they owed a vendor to ensure accurate FEC reports.  In Part 2, we noted there are now 2 citizen watchdog groups looking into the MN GOP’s Cooked Books — Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington – which nailed ‘em last time (the MN GOP got smacked with a near-record $170,000 fine), and Common Cause MN.

Today in Part 3 of the continuing Cooked Books Series, we’re going to take a quick look at one thing that got the MN GOP into trouble last time, and how it sure looks like it’ll keep them in trouble this time.  As CREW’s Melanie Sloan noted on Minnesota Public Radio just the other day:

“We seem to be seeing a repeat of the same kind of problems with the Republican Party’s finances,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington D.C.  (More, at MPR.org)

Back in February 2007, long time MN GOP employee Dwight Tostenson sent a memo to the GOP’s Executive Committee outling what he thought were – to paraphrase – real bad accounting.  REAL bad.  One thing Tostenson noted was the Party was taking employee payroll deductions for retirement accounts — but NOT  depositing the deductions into the employee’s retirement accounts!  That, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a HUGE “no no”!  At that time, MN GOP employee retirement accounts were being administered by American Express Financial.  American Express Financial was later spun off to become “Ameriprise Financial”.

On the December (covering the preceeding month,November)  RPM (“Republican Party of Minnesota”) FEC Filing, Schedule D lists a debt owed to Ameriprise Financial Services in the amount of $7,636.64.  “Nature of Debt” was listed as “Administrative/Salary/Overhead FEA Empl” —  here it is:

(link to above)

This interested me, because in The Tostenson Memo, prepared by former MN GOP Staffer Dwight Tostenson, one of his allegations was that the MN GOP was taking payroll deductions for employee retirement purposes, and not depositing said withholdings into the employee’s retirement accounts – administered by Ameriprise American Express.

So I looked in the MN GOP FEC Schedule B Filings – Disbursements –  for the month, and found no disbursements to Ameriprise.

Nor was there a disbursement in the preceeding months of October (Filing #753549), September #750371, August #745520, July #742600, June #737692, May #731962, nor April #729605.

But I noticed a funny thing, as I worked back to April – until April’s FEC Filing, the debt to Ameriprise never changed – always $7,636.64 on Schedule D (Debts and Obligations)

In April, the MN GOP’s Schedule D reported Ameriprise twice – the first time, $3133.85 – same “Nature of Debt” as above.

The second listing for Ameriprise, in the amount of $1,000.62, has “Standard Transfer: FEA Employees IRA Con” as the “Nature of Debt.”

Now, I’m not saying that the debt to Ameriprise Financial reported all those months in 2011 ($7,636.64) is in fact payroll deductions for deposits into employee retirement accounts – I’m not saying that at all.

But I will repeat what Mealanie Sloan of CREW said, above:

“We seem to be seeing a repeat of the same kind of problems with the Republican Party’s finances,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington D.C.  (More, at MPR.org)

Yep!  Sure seems to be a repeat!  

And a willful one at that.

I’m going to continue to dig into the financial disaster brought about by the alleged “Party of Fiscal Responsibility” – that’s becoming known as the MN GOP’s Cooked Books Scandal.

Hopefully, some one in the law enforcement persuasion will, too.

Because really:  Does anyone expect the newly elected MN GOP Chair “ENRON Pat” Shortridge to?

Stay tuned!

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