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Monday, August 11, 2014

Campaign fund raising chess match

CCA Party fat cat donors laying low
cat animated GIF
Here they come!
By Will Collette

The Charlestown Citizens Alliance emerged on Charlestown’s political landscape in 2006. They seized control of town government in 2008. All that time, the CCA Party has had two keys to victory – spreading fear across the community of some boogeyman that only the CCA can defeat, and big bucks mostly from its non-resident supporters.

The new campaign finance reports are in and they show the CCA Party with little money in the bank – only $2,228.18 after spending $882.06 on “Directors & Officers” insurance to cover their leaders, presumably their steering committee, from liability for their actions. 

That insurance, by the way, is a smart move since the CCA’s main method of spreading fear is to tell lies. Sooner or later, those lies are going to come back and bite them in the ass.

In the past two election cycles, the CCA Party has violated their own sacred oaths about transparency and honesty when it came to reporting their campaign finances.

In 2010, the CCA Party hid most of their income and expenses by having CCA Party leaders fund campaign activities out of their own pockets. They spent more than $10,000, many times more than all their opponents combined, but reported hardly any income or expenses under after the election. 

Then, on Election Day, the CCA Party leaders turned in their expenses and got reimbursement checks.

The Charlestown Democratic Town Committee filed a complaint with the Board of Elections, which upheld the Democrats’ complaint, ruling that the CCA Party did indeed illegally cover up their income and expenses.

In 2012, the CCA Party tried a new wrinkle. This time they reported their income and expenses in a timely fashion, but listed their non-resident donors’ addresses not by their actual residence, but by their Charlestown vacation home.

I published the names and true addresses of these donors in Progressive Charlestown. Of course, under the CCA Party’s code of conduct – for others, not themselves – naming names like that is an evil thing, while covering up is just a thing they do. 

Doing the research was pretty easy – these donors’ address of residence is listed on their assessment files in the Charlestown Tax Assessor’s database.

About 60% of the CCA Party’s income came from non-residents whose actual addresses were masked by the CCA Party.

Each election cycle, the CCA Party goes for long stretches without raising any money. However, in the final days of the campaign, especially in the last 30 days, the CCA Party has a reservoir of wealthy supporters who can write them $1000 checks.

It looks like this will be just like those previous cycles where the CCA Party won’t show who is really backing them until the last minute, in the hope that it will be too late for voters to notice.

Charlestown Democrats report small gains in the quarter

By contrast, the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee reports regular fund-raising activity. The Democrats raised $480 between March and June and ended the second quarter with $6,457.54.

The Charlestown Republicans continue to lie dormant. They have not reported raising any money in several quarters and reported no money raised once again. They spent $80 and dropped their current cash balance to just $395.17.

They have no endorsed candidates running in this election cycle. Stephen Young is running for election as one of Charlestown’s Chariho School Committee members as a Republican but without the CRTC’s endorsement.

Cameron Ennis commits yet another rookie mistake

Wave buh-bye
Cameron Ennis of Charlestown declared his intention to run against incumbent state Senator Catherine Cool Rumsey (D) but ultimately failed to collect the required 100 valid voter signatures on his nomination papers to qualify for the ballot. I covered his misadventures here and here.

While I was reviewing the campaign finance reports on the Board of Elections, for the hell of it, I checked to see if Ennis had filed anything.

Sure enough, he did. Ennis filed a CF-1 “Notice of Organization” report on May 13, a month before actual candidate declarations were due to be filed with the Charlestown Board of Canvassers.

By filing so early, Ennis made himself subject to having to file a campaign finance disclosure report on July 31, and he is now listed by the Board of Elections as overdue.

That’s yet another rookie mistake. All of Charlestown’s other candidates followed the procedure of filing their CF-1 notice after they filed their declaration papers, and that means their first individual campaign finance report will not be due to be filed until October 7.

Ennis, on the other hand, now faces fines that accumulate daily. For filing late, the fine is $25 and after seven days, there’s another $2 added every day until the tardy candidate pays up. Republican candidate Tina Jackson who ran against Rep. Donna Walsh in 2012, decided at the end to stop filing reports and she has accumulated fines of almost $5,000.

Once again, it pays to read the rule book and costs you when you don’t.

Walsh and Cool Rumsey prepare for challengers

Senator Cool Rumsey and Rep. Walsh have served Charlestown well
Rep. Donna Walsh (D) and state Senator Cathie Cool Rumsey both face challengers in 2014. Donna faces Texas-style radical “Tenther*” Blake Filippi, whose family owns Ballard’s on Block Island. Filippi is running as an independent although he has been a registered Republican. 

Donna ended the second quarter with $15,943.72 in her campaign account.

Senator Cathie Cool Rumsey (D) was going to face two opponents, One was the aforementioned Cameron Ennis who seems to be toast. The other is Republican Elaine Morgan of Hopkinton.

Morgan has run for and been elected as Hopkinton Town Sergeant but closed out that campaign account and opened a new one for this new election bid.

Neither Morgan nor Filippi were required to file campaign finance reports for the second quarter. We will see what support they have when they file their first reports on October 7.

So the October 7 campaign finance reports now take on even greater importance, as that will be the first true glimpse into the extent that money influences Charlestown politics.

As you see the yard signs sprout and get mailers in your mailbox, remember – the CCA Party currently doesn’t have the money to pay for the signs, flyers and mailers, so it will be all new money. Unless, of course, they can get the town to send out more fear-mongering propaganda for them.


* “Tenther” is the name members of the Tenth Amendment Movement give to themselves. A Texas-style radical offshoot of the Tea Party, the Tenth Amendment movement believes that the Tenth Amendment of the Constitution gives states the right to ignore any law, rule or action by the federal government that they believe is not expressly granted to the federal government by the Constitution. 

They believe, for example, that Social Security, Medicare, the GI Bill, the VA, environmental laws, just about every gun law and a host of others, are illegal usurpations of power by the federal government. See the graphic, left, for the federal departments they would shut down.

They believe that states and local governments, and private citizens, can ignore such laws or programs. They also believe that state governments have the power to nullify federal laws they believe are in violation of the 10th Amendment, such as gun control or “Obamacare.”

The Tenth Amendment Movement is based on the premise that the Constitution says what it does not say – that unless something is specifically mentioned in the Constitution, the federal government can’t do it.

Filippi is Director of ythe RI Liberty Coalition, which is focused primarily on this version of the 10th Amendment and is a legal analyst for the Tenth Amendment Center.