Thursday, July 27, 2006

Election Follies, Part Seven

Is there any exhausting this topic? Actually, no.

Let's go up to LaPorte County, where the Libertarians are exceptionally active, and exceptionally aware. They have this notion, which I also subscribe to, that laws are laws, rules are rules, and if Ls have to follow them, Rs & Ds have to follow them.

There are many forms a candidate must fill out and file. The CFA-1 is the document that forms a candidate's committee. You can't just run as an individual. The corporatization of the process requires you to form a committee. This also applies to political party organizations at the state and county level. The CFA-4 is a lenghty document that details both the funds raised and the funds expended by a committee. There are various schedules for detailing contributions by individuals, corporations, and labor unions, and for expenses for operations, advertising, and the like.

Naturally, the filing of these forms has deadlines attached to them. With deadlines come penalties for late filing. As shown below, when I was late, I was called before the Election Commission to explain myself, and was assessed a reduced fine. So, what happens when the LaPorte County Republican committee and its candidates fail to file a CFA-4 in a timely manner? Apparently, nothing, until the Libertarians hammer the issue.

The Republicans failed to file papers in 2003 without repercussions, according to the LaPorte County Libertarians. The Rs similarly failed to file this year. From the LP's letter to the LaPorte County Clerk:

Please consider this letter as a formal complaint by the Libertarian Party of LaPorte County (LPLP) against the failures of the LaPorte County Republican Central Committee and/or the LaPorte County Republican candidates for office to file Pre-Primary CFA-4 Reports in a timely manner as prescribed by I.C. 3-9-5-6. These reports should have been filed by noon on April 17, 2006, and as of July 6, 2006, they still had not been filed.

From the LaPorte Libertarians' press release:

The law requires candidates and regular party committees to file the report by noon on April 17 and provides for a $50 per day fine up to a maximum of $1000.

LPLP Vice Chair Andy Wolf expressed his frustration with the Republicans failing to file the forms. "We submitted a similar complaint in 2003 against both the Republicans and the Democrats," said Wolf, "when neither filed the required forms, and there were no repercussions. This latest violation just goes to show that the parties who wrote the rules think that they can get away with habitually breaking them with impunity. This year the LaPorte County Election Board should send a clear message to those parties and individuals who violate the campaign finance laws."

(Incidentally, Andy Wolf is one of the Libertarians that has been barred from the ballot by the Elections Division. Repercussion?) A full exposition of the issue can be found on the LPLP's website, via this link.

At any rate, rattling the cage seems to be what it takes to get people to comply with the laws their own party helps write. LPLP reports thusly:

UPDATE: Republicans admit guilt and will pay fines (7/26/2006)

Really, I would rather see being a candidate and a political party become easier and less complicated. I detest these pointless for-filling exercises. Nobody feels safer because a committee filled out more paperwork. Nobody feels representative government is strengthened by more copious and minute reporting, especially as you get down to the local level, or where small amounts of money are being raised and spent. But, if Republicans are going to help make the process more tangled with paperwork, then they should lead the way, setting the example for what flawless reporting is. No excuses- you're a Major Party!

I urge the people of Indiana to contact their State Senators and State Representatives, urging them to strip out needless filings. If a committee raises less than $100,000 in a calendar year, let's make it exempt from quarterly filing. If a committee raises no money in a calendar year, require it only to file an end-of-year statement.

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