Thursday, May 31, 2007

Unconvincing Argument from Kelty's Attorney

Previously, I blogged that, in my opinion, Matt Kelty had clearly violated campaign finance laws. The gist of my argument was that the loans he received from Fred Rost and others were certainly contributions and thus they needed to be reported as such.

In Thursday's press conference Kelty's lawyer, James Bopp, agreed that "a loan is a contribution". However, he went on to argue that personal loans to the candidate are no different than cash advances on credit cards, home equity loans, etc. He added that only loans incurred by the campaign committee and not the candidate need to be disclosed. First off the credit card and home loan argument is weak on its face. This is because the loan is not being made to influence an election - they are simply open lines of credit established outside the bounds, and not specifically earmarked for, the election.

What was interesting is Bopp made a few references to the campaign finance manual but never to any statute. I believe this is because he is simply wrong and the statutes don't support his argument. I'll share my thought process as I've attempted to wade through the relevant sections of the Indiana Code.

The relevant part of the code, I believe, comes from the following statute:
IC 3-9-5-14. Committee’s treasurer reports.
(b) The report of each committee’s treasurer must disclose the following:
(3) The following information regarding each person who has made one (1) or more contributions within the year, in an aggregate amount that exceeds the threshold contribution amount in actual value to or for the committee, including the purchase of tickets for events such as dinners, luncheons, rallies, and similar fundraising events:
Note that the statute clearly says that the contribution doesn't have to go TO the committee but simply be FOR the committee. So the only question remaining is, were the Kelty loans FOR the campaign committee? I'll let Bopp's quote from the press conference speak for itself:
"He was obtaining the loan to use for his campaign"
Like I said before, Matt Kelty clearly violated campaign finance laws...


Thomas said...

The best part of this whole thing is -- to echo Jen Wagner -- that it really doesn't matter if Bopp is right about this in the end, because the public perception is what Kelty really needs to be concerned with. Even if they can somehow prove that he was legally in the clear, the fact that he had to lawyer-up and talk technicalities is a clear implication that the Kelty campaign was once again trying to bend the rules to the point of breaking for the sake of political gain.

Even if they were right, this isn't the type of behavior anyone wants in a Mayor.

Parson said...

That lawyer acted like Kelty was some kind of saint for coming out with the information. It sounded to me like he got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and is trying to do a song and dance to distract us.