If Republican challenger Mike McGavick manages to win election to the US Senate, I’m guessing he’s in line for a plum assignment on the Budget Committee, what with the creative accounting skills he’s demonstrating in his own campaign.
Yesterday The Stranger’s Josh Feit broke the story of how McGavick dramatically inflated his campaign’s financial health at the end of the much-watched first quarter reporting period, and today the Seattle P-I’s Neil Modie adds a few details. As it turns out, McGavick erroneously reported $896,261 cash-on-hand when he only had $748,975.
So how’d he manage this impressive sleight of hand?
McGavick spent over $266,000 on a TV advertising blitz in the final weeks of March, but only reported $119,000 during the quarter. FEC rules require advertising expenses to be reported when the contract is booked, but as Feit explains, McGavick used the unusual 30-day terms he received to improperly push much of the expense off into the second quarter.
The idea that a campaign could buy political ads on credit shocks people who are familiar with political advertising. For starters, credit, by definition, is a loan. Traditionally, loans need to be reported in campaign-finance reports. No account of a loan for the TV buy appears in McGavick’s report. “Buying on credit would be very peculiar. It can be considered an in-kind contribution. So stations have campaigns pay in advance,” says Catherine Herrick, a longtime political media buyer in Washington, D.C. who owns the firm Buying Time. (Her clients include the Democratic National Committee.) “I can understand it with a corporate client, but it’d be perplexing for a station to do that with a political campaign.” Herrick’s point is that political campaigns are based on fundraising. How does a TV station know a campaign is going to meet its fundraising goals? Obviously, some candidates are richer than others, and are good for it