From the in-box: a man calling himself a former donor and supporter of Congressional candidate David M. Rivera has filed a Federal Elections complaint against Rivera, alleging Rivera unlawfully coordinated with a 527 group, “Voters Response,” to attack his Democratic opponent, Joe Garcia, and that he used the 527 to skirt campaign finance limits. The full letter from William Barzee, a local attorney, is after the jump. Also after the jump: pics of the fliers.
FORMER SUPPORTER AND DONOR FILES FEC COMPLAINT AGAINST DAVID RIVERA
I would like to inform you that I have filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission regarding David Rivera’s apparent violations of federal election laws. As a former supporter and donor to David Rivera, I am saddened and surprised by what I see as a disregard for the rules and laws that govern our elections.
I have filed this complaint as a private citizen based upon a good faith belief that federal candidate David Rivera and the 527 Committee “Voters Response” have violated federal campaign finance laws in at least two ways. First, by coordinating with a 527 committee to attack candidate Joe Garcia and second, by avoiding campaign contribution limits by off-setting campaign expenses through the 527.
Sarah Bascom of Bascom Communications has been acting as spokesperson for the Rivera campaign. Rivera campaign finance reports however show no payment for her services. The 527 “Voters Response” on the other hand has been paid by Bascom Communications for its services. “Voters Response” is the 527 committee that has launched repeated unfair attacks against Joe Garcia.
Enough is enough.
527 committees were not created to launch attacks on behalf of a candidate’s campaign, nor were they created as a way to avoid campaign contribution limits.
I call on David Rivera to end the nasty political attacks and to stop abusing our campaign finance laws.
William R. Barzee
Barzee says he was given a copy of a mail piece that that tagged Garcia as “Enron Joe,” and became suspicious because of the name of the group listed as the sender. Barzee, who calls himself a “Democrat who often crosses party lines,” says he has donated money to Rivera in the past for his state Senate campaign, but that he is currently a Garcia supporter. He told The Reid Report the group, Voters Response, listed on the flier as located at 101 Monroe Street, Tallahassee Florida 32301, was familiar to him as the name of a “right wing hit group.” He did not say how he came to know the group, and he wouldn’t say who gave him the mailer. Barzee insisted he has no ties to the Garcia campaign, and that the person who gave him the flier was not from the Garcia campaign.
This is the second time a flier, in Spanish, from a shadow 527 group has gone after Garcia. In the previous incident during the primary, political operatives allegedly used a college junior, Matt Slider, to set up a deceptive 527, Progressives for Prosperity, to mail out a flier attacking Garcia, focusing on the Gulf oil spill and also referring to Garcia as “Enron Joe.”
The Reid Report spokes to Slider in July, and he said he was duped by a graduate student named Chris Spencer, into setting up Progressives for Prosperity.
“He convinced me that even though he was a registered Republican, he was going to support a Democrat in the primary [Luis Meurice], and needed a registered Democrat to help set up a PAC.” Slider said Spencer chose him because the two had worked together on a student Senate campaign. And Slider said Spencer set up the 527 through a “lobbyist friend,” Evan Power, a former staffer to U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio. Within days of forming the PAC, Slider began getting calls from the media about a flier, this one in English, sent out by Progressives for Prosperity to Collier County voters.
Slider said the bank account set up for the group didn’t have enough funds in it to do a mailing, that he had never seen the flier, and that he objected to it. He said he withdrew the $100 that was in the Progressives for Prosperity bank account after realizing he’d been duped, and since he had been promised $500 to set up the 527, and up to $1,000 to run the PAC, which he was never paid.
Federal candidates are prohibited by law from coordinating with independent 527 groups.
Below are pictures of the front and back of the Voters Response flier, and the Progressives for Prosperity flier:
The Progressives for Prosperity flier:
UPDATE: the P.R. firm fires back. With a hat tip to Peter Schorsch, here’s Bascom Communications’ response to Barzee:
“Mr. Barzee is factually incorrect in his statements. Bascom Communications is on contract with the David Rivera for Congress Campaign and has been paid for its ongoing services by the campaign. In fact, our first payment was received directly from the campaign for the full monthly retainer amount on August 24, 2010, which will be reflected on Mr. Rivera’s next disclosure report.
“Bascom Communications has been working with Voters Response long before its engagement with the David Rivera for Congress Campaign began, and is not involved with or has any knowledge of the activities of Voters Response outside of its contractual scope of work. Bascom Communications does social media research for Voters Response, completely unrelated to the CD 25 race, and has no knowledge or involvement with anything that Voters Response may or may not be involved in with the CD 25 race or any other races it may choose to participate in.
“Regarding Mr. Barzee’s claim that David Rivera is working with a 527 to attack Joe Garcia, this is completely false and yet another shameful attempt by Joe Garcia to discredit David Rivera because he knows he cannot debate him on the real issues facing the voters of CD 25.”