What is the Holdup with Looking into Jennifer Brunner’s Illegal Use of Campaign Funds?
From Mark Niquette:
Nearly two months after Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner asked for a ruling to resolve questions about her U.S. Senate campaign using equipment bought by her former state campaign, the request is still languishing.
Both the campaign and the Federal Election Commission are refusing to provide key details about it.
Brunner’s campaign sent a letter June 11 asking the commission to determine the legality of an agreement designed to allow her U.S. Senate campaign to use around $15,000 worth of equipment purchased with state campaign funds, which normally is prohibited.
But when asked this week about the status of Brunner’s request for an advisory opinion, the commission said it doesn’t consider the request complete and won’t move forward until it does.
The federal panel had 10 days to respond to Brunner’s June 11 request and to notify the campaign whether the request was complete or to seek additional information.
This entire story is bizarre, and would be a huge story if Jennifer Brunner wa a Republican.
IT was back in June, when her spokesbabe told us that she “doesn’t know where the equipment and supplies are now.” But the records shows Jennifer Brunner knew EXACTLY what she was doing.
Here is what she bought ilegally:
2/13/09 Best Buy- Office Equipment Purchase-$3490.14
2/13/09 CDW Office Equipment Purchase- $8446.40
2/14/09 Staples- Office Supplies- $2379.14
2/17/09 Best Buy– Cell Phones- $1250.02
What is interesting to note is that she bought the cell phones on the VERY SAME DAY she announced her run for Senate. Brunner, who is the Ohio Secretary of State is certainly not ignorant of campaign finance laws. She and her campaign knew exactly what they were doing with buying those cell phones, even though FEC regulations prohibit that purchase.
And Jen Brunner has changed her story. At first, Brunner said, “I don’t know the final details of it and “needs time to determine what happened…”
But after several inquires from The Columbus Dispatch, Brunner said she signed an agreement with her husband’s law firm concerning her use of the state funds for her senate campaign FOUR MONTHS PRIOR:
The agreement calls for Brunner’s Senate campaign to donate the value of the equipment, estimated at $15,000, to charity beginning Oct. 29. Brunner’s campaign says that would enable the Senate campaign to legally use the equipment purchased by the state campaign.
After several Dispatch inquiries, Brunner’s campaign asked the FEC on Thursday for a legal opinion about an agreement that her husband’s law firm and her Senate campaign purportedly signed about four months ago. Brunner’s Senate campaign declined to release a copy of the agreement but said it would be sent to the FEC.
Although no one from the Brunner campaign would talk on the record yesterday, a spokesperson designated by the campaign indicated that there was confidence about the agreement’s legality when it was first reached and that the campaign remains confident that it was well within the bounds of campaign law.
Brunner didn’t ask the FEC until four months after the purchases were made, because she was caught. That same Dispatch article notes that “Several campaign-finance and ethics experts say Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner should have asked the Federal Election Commission to determine the legality of a secret agreement.” Wouldn’t you assume SoS Brunner would have access to that same type of good advice?
As Melanie Sloan of the Citizen for Responsiblity and Ethics said, “Certainly it is on the shady side, and you don’t expect the secretary of state, of all candidates, to engage in activities like that.”
And as Darryl Rowland noted back in June:
Maybe there’s a simpler explanation for all this, but so far Brunner and her campaign refuse to offer one. Instead, they say the matter has gotten improper attention and that her family has been unfairly dragged into the muck. (For the record, Rick Brunner’s law firm has gotten nearly $100,000 from his wife’s state campaign.)
The “simpler explanation” is that Jennifer Brunner is arrogant enough to think she is above the law, but she was caught red handed. Not only does this show Jennifer Brunner to be a terrible candidate for US Senate, but it shows that Brunner is unfit to serve as Secretary of State.
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