Neil Modie’s got the scoop in today’s Seattle P-I on a really major Federal Elections Commission complaint the WA State Dems plan to file against GOP senate candidate “Lobbyist Mike” McGavick.
The Dems allege that the revised compensation package McGavick struck with Safeco on December 6, 2005 — more than a month after he officially declared his candidacy — essentially amounted to an illegal, $17 million contribution to McGavick for “personal use.”
I haven’t had the chance yet to read the complaint, but my understanding is that the facts really aren’t in dispute… this will simply come down to how the FEC (and eventually, the courts) interpret campaign finance law. But should the ruling go against McGavick, the consequences could be huge. The Democrats are seeking “the highest civil penalties available under the law.”
I’ll reserve my comments on the merits of the complaint until after I’ve had the chance to study the relevant code, and perhaps discuss it with some legal experts. But the part of Modie’s article I found most interesting was the GOP’s official response:
“These are baseless accusations,” Julie Sund, McGavick’s campaign spokeswoman, replied Tuesday.
“The Democrats are obviously looking at the same polls we are. The race is getting tight and they’re resorting to early, mean-spirited attacks because the know the incumbent is in trouble and they want to divert attention away from the real issues in the race.”
Of course, if you’re going to categorize an FEC complaint as an “early, mean-spirited attack,” then I guess it’s worth pointing out that state GOP beat the Dems to the punch with their frivolous FEC complaint against WA-08 challenger Darcy Burner. Likewise, if it is fair to imply that the Dems’ complaint was prompted by concerns over a tightening race, then the same should certainly be said of the GOP complaint coming in the wake of Burner’s surprising fundraising results and rising profile.
Of course, the difference is, the GOP complaint was not only frivolous, it was trivial, involving a couple hundred dollars worth of volunteer work… whereas the Dems allegations are huge, describing a deliberate attempt to skirt the campaign finance laws by funneling millions of dollars directly into McGavick’s personal bank account.
In the battle of the FEC complaints, I say, score one for the Dems.
Read the full text of the Dems complaint.