Louisiana voters kept in the dark on McAllister campaign cash
Update 5:05 p.m. — Filings from the Vance McAllister campaign are now viewable on the FEC and Sunlight's Realtime FEC tool. A review of the figures shows that of the $395,034 that McAllister has raised, around $355,000 of that money came from the candidate himself. The FEC records show the reports were filed Oct. 21, the same day Sunlight published this piece.
In a few weeks, voters from Louisiana's 5th Congressional District will decide who succeeds long-time congressman Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-La., to represent the greater eastern portion of the Bayou state. While state senator Neil Riser and small-business owner Vance McAllister are both crafting their campaign rhetoric to target the district's conservative base, voters still have no clear idea about who is bankrolling McAllister's election efforts.
Special election rules put in place by the FEC only called for one major filng deadline before voters go to the polls on November 16 in addition to the requisite 48-hour notices — disclosures of contributions over $1,000 made in the final days of a race. That was on Oct. 19.
While information about the Riser campaign's receipts and disbursements is publicly available online, the FEC only shows one filing from the candidate: a statement of organization. While McAllister has publicly estimated that he has raised about $350,000, most of it his own money, a comprehensive picture of his campaign's receipts and disbursements is not available.
In an interview with Sunlight, a representative of the McAllister campaign stated that the campaign was "unable to create a new username and password to file electronically" due to the government shutdown and thus sent a CD-ROM of the campaign's filings to the FEC on the original deadline (Oct.7) set before the government shutdown.
The McAllister campaign told Sunlight that they would attempt to send the summary information for committee's receipts and disbursements. This post will be updated should we receive that information.
A lack of disclosure is the latest bump in the road in a special election that got off to an inauspicious start. Louisiana's open primary system made for a particularly crowded field, though the original slate of 14 candidates has now been whittled down to two who will compete in a special runoff election. But some outside observers — and candidates — have cried foul over potential coordination between Alexander, Riser and Gov. Bobby Jindal, who Republican state Rep. Jay Morris claims conspired to tilt the race in Riser's favor. "I didn't think this kind of thing was supposed to happen in our country," Morris told the Monroe News Star.
Alexander announced his retirement in early August after 10 years U.S. House of Representatives to accept an appointment (made by Jindal) to head the state's Department of Veterans Affairs. Riser's statement of his candidacy for Alexander's old job came quickly — so quickly that there was some allegation (denied by Riser) that he had actually filed papers before the congressman announced he was stepping down. Riser, a longtime Jindal ally, had a campaign website up and running as other candidates were still scrambling to assemble their campaign teams and chart a course for campaigning in a district that encompasses over 14,000 square miles. The time crunch on Alexander's would-be replacements was exacerbated by the short timetable for the election –Jindal set the first balloting for Oct. 19. All three men have denied involvement in any coordinated scheme to put Riser in congress.
Though McAllister is expected to hammer his opponent over the potentially shady dealings, his campaign's failure to file its financial reports has provided his opponent with his own fodder for campaign criticism — on top of witholding valuable information from voters about the complete sources of his campaign's funding.
The small business owner will need all the financial support he can get as he tries to make up ground on his opponent. Riser won the first bout of the election by a comfortable 15 point margin, leading McAllister 33 percent to 18. The open primary rules of Louisiana stipulate that if no candidate wins a majority in the first round, the top two candidates advance to a runoff.
Thus far, Neil Riser's campaign has spent over $350,000 in the abbreviated race. One outside group, Republican Super Pac Inc, has also chipped in $32,691 on mailing and survey operations in support of the state pol.
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