You read it here first, the story HA broke about the Washington State Republican Party’s illegal spending on behalf of Dino Rossi, and while the allegations were pooh-poohed at the time by the usual Rossi apologists, WA State Attorney General was left with no choice but to bring suit against his own party and former top aide, WSRP chair Luke Esser.
The Republicans spent “exempt” funds, for which there are no campaign contribution limits, on “non-exempt” activities, for which there are strict contribution limits, essentially laundering hundreds of thousands of dollars of illegal contributions on behalf of Rossi and his wealthy patrons like Rufus Lumry and Skip Rowley. And as I wrote at the time, the charges were “pretty cut and dry“:
This isn’t rocket science. It’s Campaign Finance 101. All the political candidates, consultants, committees and parties know damn well what is or is not allowed. And yet the WSRP chose to blatantly violate campaign expenditure laws that have been in place for the past 16 years.
The question now is not whether the WSRP will be penalized, but rather, will they be penalized enough to discourage future such violations, and whether the court will be willing to issue an injunction barring similar activities between now and the election. It appears that Rossi, the WSRP and the BIAW are willing to do whatever it takes to win this election, and have made the crass calculation that a Rossi victory is well worth any potential penalty, as long as it is incurred after the fact.
And as long as our media continues to withhold moral judgment of an obviously unethical and illegal strategy until the final court decision is issued months hence, then Rossi and his surrogates will have calculated correctly that crime does indeed pay.