Kasich For America [KFA], the Super PAC grinding out millions on TV ads trashing GOP leader Donald Trump, is facing threats of an audit from the Federal Election Commission [FEC] for failing to include enough detail on its last set of FEC filings.
For Ohio’s 63-year old term-limited governor, who cruised to an easy second election win last year when voter turnout was the lowest since World War II at 36.2 percent, keeping information on how he and his team operate outside the public realm is basic Kasich.
Kasich Can Stiff PB But Not FEC
While requests for public records from Plunderbund and other media seeking to lean how much Ohio taxpayers are paying for security services for Mr. Kasich’s flagging campaign for president go unheeded, Camp Kasich has a date-certain demand from the FEC to provide additional clarifying information or be subject to an audit or enforcement actions.
Banking his dimming chances to emerge as “the story” in New Hampshire, where he’s already conducted 108 events with promises to do even more engagements between now and Feb. 9th, the date Granite State voters make or break his campaign, Camp Kasich has received a letter from the FEC demanding it to amend its last quarterly report [October] with more detailed information or face the consequences it says it’s ready to undertake.
“This letter is prompted by the Commission’s preliminary review of the report referenced above,” Vicki Davis, Senior Campaign Finance Analyst, Reports Analysis Division, sent to Kasich For America Treasurer Suzanne E. Marshall.
“This notice requests information essential to full public disclosure of your federal election campaign finances. Failure to adequately respond by the response date noted above could result in an audit or enforcement action.”
Moreover, Ms. Davis advised KFA it “will not receive an additional notice from the Commission on this matter,” further noting that “Requests for extensions of time in which to respond will not be considered.” Adequate responses, she said, must be received by the Commission on or before Jan. 4, 2016 to avoid “audit action” and possible “enforcement action against the committee.”
The day after, on Jan 5, Gov. Christie, Carly Fiorina and Gov. Kasich are confirmed to speak to a forum on addiction and the heroin epidemic at Southern New Hampshire University, The Union Leader reported.
In her FEC letter to KFA, Ms. Davis identified five areas of concern that need attention in eight days:
1. Commission records indicate that your official address is different from the address disclosed on the Summary Page of your 2015 October Quarterly Report.
2. You have itemized disbursements for which you have failed to include the purpose.
3. Itemized disbursements must include a brief statement or description of why each disbursement was made. KFA was told to clarify “In-kind” among other concerns including “clarification regarding inadequate purposes of disbursement” published in the Federal Register.
4. Disclosure for Reimbursements to individuals for “per diem & reimburse travel/disbursement,” “reimburse hospitality” and “reimburse mileage & per diem” were inadequate. “Please amend your report to include the missing information…”
5. Petty cash disbursement disclosure to any person or vendor for any single purchase or transaction more than $200 in an election cycle must have a memo entry including the name of the original vendor as well as address, date, amount, and purpose of the original purchase.
Minors errors include information listed on the wrong line of the form as well as an incorrect information for a “refund of contribution.” Failure to comply with the provisions of the Act, the FEC letter from Ms. Davis to Ms. Marshall said, could result in an enforcement action against KFA.
“Any response submitted by your committee will be placed on the public record and will be considered by the Commission prior to taking enforcement action,” the letter said.
Christie, Kasich Like Keeping Campaign Secrets
In a separate but related news story, New Jersey “Spotlight” reporter Mark Lagerkvist found that travel secrets Gov. Chris Christie didn’t want revealed were revealed in his latest FEC report. Exactly like Gov. Kasich, who’s been able to keep his travel arrangements secret under the plausible but gimmick guise of security concerns, Gov. Christie convinced a court to keep confidential campaign information confidential.
“Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential campaign is revealing his travel secrets — the same type of information the New Jersey governor convinced a court to keep confidential because it would supposedly endanger his safety,” Lagerkvist, a prize-winning journalist, wrote. “The names and locations of 34 hotels and 32 restaurants where the Christie entourage lodged and dined were listed by Chris Christie for President Inc. in its quarterly report to the Federal Election Commission. Required by law, the 1,030-page document details $2.8 million the campaign spent on various expenses from July through September.”
According to Lagerkvist, who brought an action against Gov. Christie [Lagerkvist vs. Office of Governor], those disclosures are in direct conflict with the argument Mr. Christie used to “convince a judge not to release state records of travel expenses racked up by the governor’s Executive Protection Unit and paid by New Jersey taxpayers, including $1 million in American Express charges.
“The result is a paradox: The hotels, restaurants and airlines patronized by Christie and his campaign staff with private money are a matter of public record. Yet details of the public cost caused by Christie’s White House run are kept secret by court order,” the Spotlight article says.
In Ohio, Mr. Kasich relies on the Ohio Department of Public Safety [ODPS] to keep information on how its protects him and his family, and the cost of that protection, especially now as he and his wife and twin daughters venture out of state to push his candidacy for president. ODPS houses the Ohio Highway Patrol, which travels with him, and keeps those records. But ODPS has refused to disclose them to media including Plunderbund, arguing doing so could compromise the Kasich family’s personal safety.
A spokesman for the governor it’s all protected information because it’s not public. “For the safety of the governor, his family and those with him, we simply never discuss security procedures or resources,” Mr. Kasich’s press secretary Rob Nichols said.
Now that the FEC has given KFA a date certain to provide details that could illuminate the extent to which Ohio taxpayers are bankrolling his out-of-state travels, Mr. Kasich and his entourage won’t be able to stiff-arm this federal agency as easily as it dismisses requests by Plunderbund or other media seeking information on the interaction between the Office of Governor and Kasich For America.