Mo' Money Mo' Problems
Based on a Politicker investigation, Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate is asking the Federal Election Commission to open an investigation into Paul Ryan’s congressional campaign committee. Last Thursday, we published a report detailing how Paul Ryan, who is simultaneously running for re-election in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District and on the GOP presidential ticket with Mitt Romney, may have improperly used funds from his congressional campaign for about $60,000 in expenses at the Republican National Convention. Mr. Tate’s letter to the FEC said this story shows Mr. Ryan’s congressional campaign committee “co-mingled expenditures between the Committee and the Romney Committee” in violation of federal regulations. Politicker has obtained a copy of Mr. Tate’s letter, which he is sending this week.
“As disclosed in an article published on October 25, 2012 in Politicker.com, a political website operated by The New York Observer, the Committee reported ‘$59,603.41 that was specifically identified as [Republican National] convention-related expenses between July 26 and October 17.’ A copy of the article is attached to this letter,” Mr. Tate wrote. ”A spokesperson for the Committee is quoted as stating that the bulk of such expenses were for the purchase of twenty hotel rooms for use at the Republican National Convention, although the Committee had only five staff members.”
A Politicker examination of federal campaign finance disclosure reports submitted by Paul Ryan’s congressional campaign has uncovered indications Mr. Ryan may have improperly used funds raised for his re-election effort in Wisconsin for presidential campaign activities at the Republican National Convention in August. Mr. Ryan is simultaneously running for re-election in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District and on the GOP presidential ticket with Mitt Romney. At the RNC in Tampa, Mr. Ryan’s House campaign spent about $60,000. However, these convention expenses seem to go far beyond the scope of the activities and staff he had at the RNC for his bid to reclaim his House seat.
One prominent election law expert told us this is a “highly problematic” potential violation of Federal Election Commission regulations regarding candidates running for multiple federal offices. A spokesperson for Mr. Ryan’s opponent in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District described it as a possibly “troubling” element of “Paul Ryan’s overarching pattern of dishonesty in this race.” When we reached out to Mr. Ryan’s congressional campaign manager, we received a shifting series of explanations including at least one statement that was clearly untrue.
CHARLOTTE, NC — Though the GOP made sure to showcase a diverse group of speakers at the Republican National Convention last week, Democrats have boasted their confab in Charlotte was far more diverse than the Republicans’ confab. Rather than take those claims at face value, we reached out to both parties to see how many minority delegates attended each of the conventions.
TAMPA, FL — It’s fitting that one of the most enduring images of the 2012 Republican National Convention was Clint Eastwood’s empty chair, since the main purpose of the confab was crowning Mitt Romney as the titular leader of the party, finally filling the seat of GOP power that has remained more or less vacant since John McCain was vanquished by President Barack Obama four years ago.
As the saying goes, when you play the game of thrones, you either win or you die. After his defeat in 2008, Mr. McCain didn’t even bother joining the primary combatants vying to lead the elephant herd into battle against President Obama in this year’s race. His second, Sarah Palin, didn’t have a place in the primaries or at the convention in Tampa. Instead, she was banished to her Facebook page, where she railed against her overlords at Fox News for canceling all of her scheduled appearances, in which she’d hoped to take to the airwaves in praise of Mr. McCain on the night of his RNC cameo.
Like any coronation, last week’s convention was supposed to be a time for Mr. Romney’s fellow Republicans to rally around him and march into combat by his side. However, the ascent of the House of Romney was accomplished without the blessing of the conservative and libertarian factions of the party. As a result, Tampa became a theater for the sorts of behind-the-scenes drama, intrigue and power plays that so often accompany these matters of dynastic succession. Though ostensibly acting as standard bearers for Mr. Romney, the other lords of the GOP seemed to be more interested in plotting their own ascendancies four years from now than in following Mitt into battle against President Obama.
TAMPA, FL — Mitt Romney is currently on stage at the Republican National Convention. During his speech, a group of protesters attempted to interrupt the proceedings by shouting from the seats above the convention floor. Audience members drowned them out with chants of, “USA! USA! USA!”
Politicker was unable to hear the protesters from our spot on the convention floor, but, according to journalist Andrew Coyne, they were waving pink banners and shouting, “People over profits!” The protesters were quickly removed by security personnel. Dan Libit of the Daily said the protesters were affiliated with the activist group Code Pink, which staged a similar interruption during Paul Ryan’s speech yesterday.
TAMPA, FL — Billionaire Republican megadonor David Koch, who, along with his brother, Charles, is pumping an estimated $400 million into this presidential campaign, talked to Politicker about the controversial level of influence major contributors have on American elections in an interview on the floor of the Republican National Convention a few moments ago.
“We have a free society and people are free to do what they want, you know, as long as they don’t hurt others and they obey the law,” Mr. Koch said. “So, I believe in free speech and if people want to spend money in politics or something else, it’s their right, nothing wrong with that. So, I endorse that.”
TAMPA, FL – Sarah Palin took to Facebook yesterday to accuse Fox News of canceling all of her scheduled appearances on the network during the Republican National Convention, but CNN host Piers Morgan said he’d be glad to have her on his show during the RNC festivities. However, Mr. Morgan said Ms. Palin, who has a contract with Fox News through January, has yet to take him up on his invitation.
“I’m serious, if she’s fallen out with Fox, I’d love to get her on. It’s the one reason we haven’t had her since I’ve been on air, because of her contract with Fox,” Mr. Morgan told Politicker at the CNN Grill at the RNC last night. “Clearly, if she’s had an issue with them and can now do us, I’d love to interview her.”
TAMPA, Fla. — If outspoken actor Alec Baldwin runs for mayor in New York, his little brother, Bio-Dome star Stephen Baldwin, would vote for him. However, the younger Baldwin sounded decidedly unenthusiastic about the prospect of his sibling in City Hall when we asked him about it outside the CNN Grill at the Republican National Convention yesterday.
“I really wouldn’t have much of a choice. Would I? Being a New York resident and he’s big bro, so yeah, he gets my vote,” Stephen said.
Stephen Baldwin is a self-proclaimed “Jesus freak evangelical charismatic born again conservative independent,” with far different political views than his notoriously liberal brother. Because of this, Stephen initially suggested he might run against his brother when word got out that the elder Baldwin was considering running for mayor.
Mitt Romney launched a major counteroffensive against the Obama campaign’s persistent attacks on his record at the private equity firm Bain Capital today. Not only did he unveil www.SterlingBusinessCareer.com to tout his private-sector achievements, but tonight’s schedule at the Republican National Convention is loaded up with Bain-related events.
Better Late Than Never
TAMPA, FL — Staten Island Congressman Michael Grimm arrived at the Republican National Convention in time to see his party’s vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, make his speech. Mr. Grimm told Politicker he was quite pleased with Mr. Ryan’s remarks.
“I think he delivered. First and foremost, the great thing about Paul Ryan and, you know, I’ve gotten to know him pretty well, is his sincerity just shines through,” said Mr. Grimm. “When he gets choked up speaking about his mom, it reminds me of when I speak about my dad. It’s just, it’s real, it’s not contrived. It is who he is and I think that comes across in everything he says.”
Mr. Grimm is currently dealing with an FBI probe and allegations of potential impropriety surrounding donations he received from an influential rabbi. In the wake of the fundraising flap, Mr. Grimm was removed from the list of convention delegates for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Mr. Grimm initially said he wouldn’t be attending the convention due to weather concerns caused by tropical storm Isaac, which lead to speculation among insiders his potential absence was related to the fundraising flap. Mr. Grimm told us the rumors surrounding his convention attendance were “utter nonsense.”