Oh man does Darcy Burner have the Republicans running scared. First, our good friend Stefan attempts to “pull a Goldy” with his ridiculous hit on Burner’s resume, and now the WA State GOP gets into the act with a frivolous FEC complaint.
In regards to the Burner campaign, the complaint mostly focuses on a video produced last fall at the caucuses for Eastside Democracy for America. After tossing about a few insults, state GOP chair Diane Tebelius alleges that:
The group produced and distributed a videotape of the event, the cost of which likely exceeds the $5,000 contribution limit for Political Action Committees.
I’ll ignore the question of whether Eastside DFA is or is not a PAC; that’s none of Burner’s concern. But “the group” did not produce this video. It was produced by Andrew Tsao (who also happens to be NPI’s Media & Communications Director) on a purely volunteer basis. Nobody paid him for his efforts. As far as I know, he wasn’t even reimbursed for the cost of the videotape.
And as the Burner campaign points out in response to the complaint, if individuals volunteer their services to a campaign without compensation, such volunteer activity is not reportable. Indeed, they don’t just point this out, they provide the text of the actual FEC regulation:
Basic Rule: No Compensation
An individual may volunteer personal services to a campaign without making a contribution as long as the individual is not compensated by anyone for the services. 100.74. Volunteer activity is not reportable.
EXAMPLE: An attorney, working as a volunteer (i.e., he receives no compensation from anyone), writes policy papers for the campaign.
Note, however, that if volunteers are, in fact, paid for their services, the activity is no longer considered volunteer activity, and the payments, if made by someone other than the campaign itself, result in in-kind contributions, which must be reported by the campaign. 100.54. (Exception: “Free Legal and Accounting Services,” above.)
Hmm. Well, Tebelius may not have done her homework, but I understand a couple of reporters have, and the FEC told them exactly what they told the Burner campaign. Tsao’s video was completely kosher, and was not subject to the reporting requirements.
But you know, I can see how a professional politico like Tebelius might be confused, as doing stuff for free just isn’t something one expects from Republicans. So if you think they’re nervous now, just wait until reality sets in… for Burner didn’t just outraise Reichert two-to-one during the last quarter all by her lonesome… she did it on the backs of grassroots volunteers like Tsao.
The Burner Buzz continues to build….
More details over on NPI.