While everyone is wondering how Gov. Chris Gregoire beat Dino Rossi (I mean damn, with that powerful Seattle Times endorsement for Rossi, she sure had it tough), I’m more interested in why Darcy Burner didn’t beat incumbent Republican Rep. Dave Reichert in Washington’s 8th Congressional district.
Part of what helped Reichert fend off Burner’s challenge was the $300,000 TV ad blitz he did in the final week of the campaign, lampooning Burner for saying she had an economics degree from Harvard. In fact, she had a B.A. from Harvard with a concentration in computer science and a specialization in economics. The Seattle Times made a big deal out of the difference (they put it on the front-page), which lent legitimacy to Reichert’s mudslinging ads.
I wasn’t as exorcised about the issue as Goldy, but I must admit, saying you have an economics degree from Harvard (Harvard!) when it’s actually a minor, is hardly a front-page offense.
Nonetheless, Reichert’s ads were devastating. When I first saw them, I thought, “This campaign is over.” Burner was beating Reichert handily in the polling heading into the final week. It looks like Reichert’s last-minute ad blitz reversed the trend.
The real loser isn’t Burner, though. The real loser is campaign finance law. According to Reichert’s campaign finance reports, he did not have the cash on hand to pay for those ads. That means he got a loan (illegal) from either his media buyer, Media Plus, or from the TV stations. On October 31, I reported:
Totaling up his fundraising for October, Reichert had about $1.4 million to spend. However, his ad buys for the month total about $1.7 million. That puts him about $300,000 in the red, which is how much ad time he has booked during the last week of the campaign. That means his closing ad blitz isa gimme from the TV stations and Media Plus. (As I’ve reported, local TV stations have a long standing deal with Media Plus allowing the firm to secure ad time on credit.)
Burner spokesman Sandeep Kaushik quips, “These ads shouldn’t say, ‘This message approved by Dave Reichert.’ They should say, ‘Paid for by Media Plus.’”
I’m waiting to hear back from the Reichert campaign for their explanation of the deficit spending.
I looked at the latest numbers available at the Federal Elections Commission to see if Reichert raised that $300,000 before November 4. If he had—setting aside the question of whether or not it’s fair that his campaign could get an advance on TV time—it would at least show that his campaign ultimately had the financial support to run the campaign it ran.
If he didn’t bring in the $300,000 before Nov. 4, it means he circumvented election law. And worse, his violation—getting an illegal loan for TV time—may have been directly responsible for handing him the election.
According to the FEC, in the last week of the campaign, Reichert raised $132,600. That’s $167,400 shy of what he owed the TV stations.
Given that the Seattle Times’ rap on Burner was that she relied on out-of-state money (which I debunked here), it’s also worth noting that over 50 percent of Reichert’s last week total, $70,800, came from out of sate. And $45,500, or 34 percent, came from PACs.
A few noteworthy local donors: Linda Nordstrom gave $1,000. Amazon’s PAC gave $1,000.
Kathy Neukirchen, the president of Reichert’s media buyer, Media Plus, is listed as having donated $1,000. Her donation should actually be listed as $167,400, the difference between the $300,000 ad buy and the $132,600 Reichert was able to raise in the final week of the campaign.
I have tried several times to contact Reichert’s campaign about this issue, and they have not responded.