Hidden in Plain Sight


I began this day with an IM conversation with Larry Makinson about trying to get our hands on the most recently campaign contribution reports for the Lieberman-Lamont race. It dawned on us that the records could be pretty interesting. My thought had been to simply to direct our readers to the reports that were on line and let them search around. I guess we should have known it wouldn’t be that easy. Our dialogue is instructive. Imagine if two novices were trying to find this information.

Ellen (9:00:14 AM):  Got a blog idea for you this morning!



Larry (9:00:26 AM): You don’t mean Rep. Bob Ney, I presume.

Ellen (9:00:29 AM): Nope. He’s finished. That story is all about the fact that his relationship with Jack Abramoff became transparent to the people in his district. And apparently the folks there didn’t much like the notion that their Congressman seemed to be doing more for casinos and Indian tribes at the best of Washington super sleazy lawyer Jack Abramoff, than for the people he represents. Today’s story is the late money in the Lieberman-Lamont race. We need to look at the so-called 48 hour reports in that race. Are they avail on line?

Larry (9:04:59 AM): To do a story on Lieberman’s money would take a lot more time than we have. Even if the records are online, they’d be in PDF form – we’d have to create a database by hand-inputting them, then coding, etc. That could take several days.

Ellen (9:17:42 AM):  How often do the candidates have to file at this point in the campaign?

Larry (9:18:26 AM): If the candidates are filing a 48-hour report, that is the final stage. Let me check the details on the FEC site. The 48-hour notice looks like the last one until the post-election report, which comes I think 7 days after the election. It (the 48-hour report) covers contributions received between 7/20 and 8/5. (That’s the Connecticut time frame — it’s different for each state).

Ellen (9:25:01 AM): There’s nothing more recent than 8/5 required to be filed? You gotta’ be kidding!

Larry (9:26:58 AM): Here’s what the FEC site says on the 48-hour reports: "48-Hour Notices are required if the campaign committee receives contributions (including in-kind gifts or advances of goods or services; loans from the candidate or other non-bank sources; and guarantees or endorsements of bank loans to the candidate or committee) of $1,000 or more, during the applicable period."

Larry (9:27:42 AM): And the "applicable period" for the Connecticut senate race is the one I gave you earlier. I must say I’m surprised to see that myself. I’d have thought 48-hour reports are last-minute contributions only.

Larry (9:34:51 AM): Aha. The 24-hour and 48-hour reports that really do cover last-minute money are only required to be filed by people doing independent expenditures. The candidate is only required to do the one 48-hour report, which runs only as late (in Connecticut) as August 5.

Larry (10:07:36 AM): THE BAD NEWS: 165 pages of PDFs on line in 14 different reports, all of which say they’re 48-hour reports. They were filed between July 24 and August 3. The FEC says there are no later reports than that.

Ellen (10:08:30 AM): Aaargh. What to do?

Larry (10:08:50 AM): I’ll download them and look through them. Here’s the link

http://images.nictusa.com/cgi-bin/fecimg/?C00235515. That’s all we can do.

Ellen (10:10:26 AM): OK

Larry (10:23:52 AM): FYI, I just looked at the last of those 14 Lieberman PDFs. They’re not even typewritten – they’re HANDWRITTEN and not exactly neat penmanship either. They must have been writing quickly, with all those checks coming in…I’m printing them all out. As long as the ink in my printer holds out, I should be able to handle this okay from here.  By the way, Lieberman’s contribution limit is now $12,600 per donor – thanks to the millionaire amendment and Lamont’s self-spending. 

Stay tuned. Larry’s report in a little while.