Thursday, February 4, 2010
Councilor Plowman's Extraordinary Campaign Finance Report (With Update #2)
The extraordinary 2009 campaign finance report filed by Councilor Lincoln Plowman might shed some light on the as of yet subject of the federal investigation. The report shows that Plowman raised $14,622.61 in 2009. He spent $14,580.75, a "burn rate" of 99.7%. That is something simply not done in an off year. Candidates for office typically build up their war chest and unload it all during the year of the election (- which for Plowman would be 2011.) During the off-years, little campaign money is spent, especially for someone who holds a council position. Plowman though is in a safe seat. He could win a general election in southern Marion County by spending $5.
Three things jump out from the expenditure side of the report: $2873.96 paid to Verizon Wireless, $3082.46 to Fry Electronics and numerous loans from Plowman to the committee which were paid back. The latter is not illegal...as long as the loans are for a campaign purpose.
Backing up to the front of the report, the contribution side is even more interesting. Former City-County Council President Beurt Servaas is shown as donating $2,000. Servaas is also millionaire playboy Timothy Durham's former father-in-law. Lincoln Plowman is shown as contributing $5,272.61. That I find more unusual than the loan he made to his campaign. When candidates contribute to their own campaign, they normally list them as loans so that down the road they might be able to pay it back if the campaign ever gets extra cash. Plowman did both - making loans to the committee and making contributions.
Then it gets even more interesting. Politically well-connected city contractor Keystone Group, LLC gave $2,000. Then the one that is the most astonishing of them all - Marion County Republican Central Committee (MCRCC) is listed as giving Plowman $3,250 during 2009.
The Marion County GOP is broke and even had to borrow $15,000 from the Mayor Ballard's campaign committee in 2009. Yet it turned around and gave $3,250 to a council candidate, in a safe district, in an off year?
There were some minor issues with the report, including a few hundred dollar payments to individuals for "fundraising" when it was clear from the expenditure side that Plowman didn't host a fundraiser in 2009. When you host a fundraiser, you get a large number of smaller contributions.
A Channel 59 report this morning said that the Plowman investigation centers on "council activities." Not sure if could be issues relating to this unusual campaign report and possible violations of Indiana campaign law. One thing though that doesn't add up is questioning by the FBI. I don't believe the feds would have any jurisdiction to pursue violations of state campaign law. If it is state criminal law involved, that would be the exclusive domain of Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi. Fat chance getting any prosecution from Brizzi who also had highly questionable contributions and expenditures on his report.
Update #2: As was pointed out by "Dan" in the comment section, the report I linked for was for in my Update #1 showing the MCRCC only had $2,000 was for the the Marion County Republican COUNCIL Committee, not the Marion County Republican CENTRAL Committee, same initials but an entirely different committee. That's what I get for trying to post on a 10 minute break during my class.
I instead looked up the correct report this time - the one for the Marion County Republican Central Committee. The most recent form available is 2008 and it shows at the end of 2008, the correct MRCC had a balance of $2,462.66. So the MCRCC, which at the end of 2008 was so poor it had less than $2,500, gave $3,250 in campaign contributions to a council member in a safe district in an off year? This was in a year when the MCRCC had to borrow $15,000 from the Mayor's committee. Very strange.