Earlier this week I offered Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna some solid advice:
[T]he sitting state Attorney General should NOT have his campaign stooges give uninformed legal
babbleopinion—it reflects badly on the legal prowess of the Attorney General.
But now, McKenna is doubling down on this sort of idiocy…by mailing out a fundraising letter built around a whopper of a lie, built on their fringe legal theory.
Publicola reports on McKenna’s letter that starts out:
The leading Democratic contender, Congressman Jay Inslee, has a war chest of over $1,000,000 in his re-election campaign for Congress. This week the media is reporting that he intends to illegally transfer that money to his state campaign for governor.
By “the media”, the McKenna campaign means this AP piece that was carried by numerous media sources.
A plain reading of the AP piece yields these facts (reordered):
- McKenna had $40,000 left over from his 2008 campaign
- McKenna didn’t segregate the money into a surplus account; rather, he rolled over those funds to his 2012 campaign
- The rolled-over funds commingled with new money and, therefore, are subject to campaign contribution limits
- Inslee has $1.2 million surplus from past campaigns squired away in a separate account.
- Inslee asked the PDC for permission to use the surplus, with donor consent, for his gubernatorial bid.
- About $1 million of Inslee’s money never commingled with new money so it would not be subject to campaign contribution limits
- The McKenna campaign characterized Inslee’s money as “illegal,” and claimed that Inslee was circumventing Washington state law
- The PDC disagrees with McKenna’s intrepertation; they agree that Inslee can, with donor consent, use about $1 million for his gubernatorial campaign without contribution limit issues
- The only challenge to the PDC’s interpretation of the law in the article comes from McKenna
This last point is important. It means McKenna’s fundraising letter is premised on a lie. It says:
This week the media is reporting that [Inslee] intends to illegally transfer that money to his state campaign for governor,
Not true. The media does not suggest the proposed transfer would be illegal. Here is what an honest McKenna could say:
This week the media is reporting that [Inslee] intends to transfer that money to his state campaign for governor. The PDC says this is legal. We disagree.
That would be an honest summary of the situation.
Instead this whole episode leaves us with a troubling picture of McKenna:
- He (or his campaign) fucked-up their own cash roll-over, apparently through ignorance of the state’s campaign laws
- He espouses a fringe legal theory about campaign cash roll-over, one that is contradicted by the PDC
- He is willing to blatantly lie to his potential donors
The episode not only throws into doubt if he has the integrity to be Governor, it throws into doubt his competence as our state’s top lawyer.