There’s something rotten in Denmark, or Longmont more specifically. There is a game afoot to get around reporting who is making campaign contributions and how much they are contributing. The most egregious example of this has been made by someone on council who pushed the hardest for transparency in campaign reports: Councilmember Sarah Levison. But not far behind is a slew of fellow Democrat candidates and a committee.
The issue is “non-itemized contributions“, we’ll refer to them as NIC’s. These, in theory, are contributions less than $50 that no information has to be reported about. Based on the reports for the 1st and 2nd period, I came across some interesting and troubling numbers. I made a list of candidates and committees, how much they have received in total, how much they received in NIC’s, and what the percentage is of these NIC’s are to their overall contributions. Leading the pack by a long shot in both total dollar amounts and NIC’s is Sarah Levison. She’s raised $3,807.93 in total, of that $1,197.93 are in NIC’s – that’s 31.5%! A third of the money she’s collected we have no way of knowing who or where it came from!
Next in line is fellow councilmember and Democrat Brian Hansen, but his numbers are so minuscule in overall totals and NIC’s ($105 and $30 respectively), his 28.6% of NIC/total contributions is pointless to make an issue of. But next in line is liberal/progressive political committee “Moving Longmont Forward“. Based on the contributors and registered agent, Teresa Lichti who I have known for over 20 years, there should be no assumption of honesty, integrity, or honor. They brought in $3,544 overall, $619 of which was in NIC’s – for a percentage of 17.5%. On the surface that may not seem like much, although it is a fifth – but there’s more to it than meets the eye.
This group raised non-NIC money from about 15 people in about 15 days, give or take. Based on their accrued expenses for one of their mailers, it was obvious they did not raise enough money to pay for it. Then, almost like magic, they come up with an extra several hundred dollars in NIC money in the matter of a couple of days – which considering each of these NIC’s would have to be under $50, that would require around 13 people to kick in $49 each. So, we’re supposed to believe that in the matter of a couple of days they brought in, with nearly the same amount of people, over $600? That is a stretch.
Also consider that most of the people who contributed to Moving Longmont Forward had maxed out their contributions to Dennis Coombs. Near the end of the first reporting period, when the mailer had to be paid for, $500 contributions rolled in. Who’s to say some of these people – or outside entities – didn’t kick in even more and brushed them under the carpet as “non-itemized contributions”? Knowing what I know of these people I wouldn’t put it past them. An audit of Moving Longmont Forward’s Guaranty Bank and Trust account, especially the dollar amounts and dates, would probably be quite revealing.
After this committee comes Sean McCoy (12.5%), Suzzanne Painter (10.7%), and Dennis Coombs (9.4%) – common thread, all Democrat candidates, too much for a coincidence. But the amounts for McCoy, Painter (and Paul Tiger) are too inconsequential to matter, Dennis Coombs on the other hand is a different story.
Again, many of Dennis Coombs’ contributors are maxed out with him and Moving Longmont Forward. Moving Longmont Forward’s mailer was a hit piece on Dennis Coombs’ opponent, Mayor Bryan Baum. So it appears these two entities are basically one in the same, with Moving Longmont Forward a vehicle to get around the Longmont Fair Campaign Practices Act (LFCPA). Dennis Coombs has raised over $11,000, with over $1,000 in NIC’s. Mr. Coombs has also fronted his own campaign nearly $4,000 of his own money.
This is a staggering amount, and in combination with the high amount of NIC’s is very suspicious on two counts. First, there is no limit to how much a candidate can spend of his own money on his campaign. Second, there is no limit to how much a candidate, or committee, can raise in Non-Itemized Contributions. Transparency in this area is a big fat ZERO, and people are exploiting it. So, once again we are to take it on faith that a virtual unknown in the political world is getting all of this NIC money and at the same time supposedly spending even more of his own money?
There have been concerns that outside political money from organizations like ThinkProgress, ProgressNow, MoveOn.Org, and the billionaires identified in the book “The Blueprint” would find its way into our local election. Former councilmember Tom McCoy was repeatedly heard saying “millions” would be spent on this election. I believe what we are seeing in this inordinate amount of “self funding” and “non-itemized contributions” is the self-fulfilling prophesy Mr. McCoy spoke of, and that Dennis Coombs and Moving Longmont Forward are conduits of the above named groups.
For reference, here are some NIC percentages from other candidates/committees after the 2nd reporting period: Brian Bagley 4%, Bryan Baum 3%, and coming in at ZERO PERCENT is Heath Carroll, Ron Gallegos, Bonnie Finley, and the committee Look Before We Leap. That means all of the contributions are itemized with actual names, dates, addresses, and amounts.
Ask Sarah Levison, Moving Longmont Forward, and Dennis Coombs why they are against transparency in campaigning. It’s a fair and legitimate question.