Is Kevin Mannix planning a campaign money scam?

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Over at PolitickerOR, they're reporting that four-time statewide loser Kevin Mannix has decided to definitely, absolutely, run for... something.

He's not sure what, though. Not yet.

Kevin Mannix says he was faced with two options prior to U.S. Rep. Darlene Hooley’s announcement that she would not be seeking re-election: to do nothing or to run for Attorney General. ...

"With Hooley’s announcement, because of my situation in the district, it became a whole new possibility,” Mannix said of running for Congress.

“I will say I’ve pretty much dropped the option of doing nothing.”

But, of course, Kevin is the chief petitioner of a bunch of ballot measures - most prominently, a minimum-sentencing law that would expand Measure 11 to nonviolent crimes, jacking up our prison budgets, and further bankrupting our state.

It's long been expected that should he decide to run for Attorney General, he'd use the initiative as the core theme of his campaign - using each campaign to leverage support for the other. And while that has some interesting effects from a communications and strategy standpoint, there was no strong financial advantage other than some minor cost efficiencies.

But now that he's running for Congress, he's hinting at playing a much more dangerous game. One that might land him in serious trouble under federal law.

You see, in federal races, there are pretty strict limits for a guy who is used to raising money in six-figure chunks from sex weirdos named Loren Parks. Each donor can contribute a maximum of $2300 in the primary election, and $2300 in the general election.

Mannix likely has a decent list of small under-$100 donors, but not enough to fuel a congressional campaign.

So, what's a guy like Kevin to do? Read between the lines here:

Mannix, however, is not worried about the effects of spending limits on his initiative, noting that there is always a PAC that will take on campaigning and fundraising for the measure. But don’t count on financial limitations to dampen his support.

Certainly as a chief petitioner, I would exercise my First Amendment rights to offer my opinion,” he continued.

Now, I'm no election lawyer. But as I understand it, a federal candidate can't raise money for a state campaign committee. But it's unclear whether that state campaign committee could use a federal candidate as the chief spokesman for a ballot measure.

Could Kevin Mannix be planning to run for Congress - while using a well-funded no-limits ballot measure committee to pay for the bulk of his television time?

If so, he'd be making a mockery of the nation's campaign finance laws -- and would likely face investigation, prosecution, and fines. Unfortunately for all of us, the FEC is notorious for getting deadlocked in their judgments and taking years and years to issue rulings.

Will the media be a watchdog on this? I'm hopeful, but not holding my breath. After all, it's the media - especially the television media - that profits most when campaigns are spending big money.

This just points to one critical thing. We Democrats absolutely need to be committed to funding whichever Democrat(s) get into this campaign. Early, often, and big.

Why not start right away? Donate now to the Democratic Nominee Fund for the 5th District. The money will be held in escrow by ActBlue until the primary is over.

OR-05 Democratic Nominee Fund, 2008. $

[Full disclosure: My firm built the website for Greg Macpherson for Attorney General. I speak here only for myself.]

  • (Show?)

    Kari, If I understand this correctly, Mannix could put his mug on ads for his ballot measures, gaining lots of exposure, publicity and name/face recognition at no cost to his Congressional campaign, and then only a few Mannix for CD5 ads would be required to tie the name and face to the Congrssional bid. Crafty, economical and sorta sneaky.

  • (Show?)

    And clearly illegal. Unless they put it together entirely without his cooperation. Yeah right.

  • SC (unverified)

    Thanks, for highlighting this, Kari

    It sounds illegal. It's certainly unethical but that's what we expect from Mannix.

  • (Show?)

    Yes, it's not like he'd be the first guy to consider such an idea. Of course, Mannix seems to have a pattern of funny business with money. There's the $200,000 he made from Freedomworks for seemingly very little work, and the $838,000 that his campaigns have paid to him personally and to his law firm.

  • SC (unverified)

    Things like this remind me of how the Libby defense fund paid out less than a million when it raised $5 million. Where did all that trust money go?

    There are still too many loopholes in the charitable giving deductions and trust fund conversions in politics. All you can do is shine a light on them and hope that the future Congress can work to clean these things up.

  • mbraymen (unverified)

    This year the FEC won't be will be non-functioning. Because the Republicans blocked confirmation any of the President's nominees unless the unacceptable Hans von Spakovsky was included, the committee does not have a quorum.

  • Ernie Delmazzo (unverified)

    I believe it would be legal for the state initiatives to promote Mannix as the person behind them while he ran for Congress. And even if it were illegal, it might still be done because the FEC is inept and any decision takes 2+ years after an election.

    If it wasn't done that way, or perhaps in conjunction, Mannix's wealthy friends would create Section 527's. Although 527's aren't supposed to advocate for the election or defeat of any federal candidate, we're all familiar with Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

    Although the FEC fined Swift Boat, MoveOn, and others for specifically advocating the election or defeat of candidates in 2004, the reality is that each group achieved what they set out to do anyway. Swift Boat raised about $17 million and paid a fine of $299,500, not a bad net gain.

    Friends of Mannix would gear their 527 on an issue to specifically attack the Democrat, such as that person being weak on crime. Even if the Democrat had no weaknesses, Parks & Co, would make stuff up. The state and federal PACs would feed upon - and help - each other.

    P.S. People are leaving out that Mannix could run for S. of S.

connect with blueoregon