Patrick Gaspard chosen as Obama's new political director.
The title is a test. If you know enough about this race to wince at the name, you pass.
By Moe Lane Posted in 2008 | Business as Usual | Obamafiles | The Chicago Way — Comments (9) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
OK, let's walk through this one.
The very short version (and hat-tip to Gateway Pundit for this): Obama's new political director Patrick Gaspard, while national field director for the group America Coming Together, used felons for GOTV canvassing functions in the 2004 national election. His organization also ended up having to pay three quarters of a million dollars in fines - excuse me: "civil penalties" - to get the FEC off of their back for election finance rules violations. And, very amusingly, up until he got hired he was a registered and current lobbyist for 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East (as well as being its Executive Vice President).
Did all of that get your attention?
Excellent. Read on.
Patrick Gaspard was, as noted above, national field director for America Coming Together. Some of the events that took place on his watch (all bolding mine):
Felons paid in voter registration drive
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — A Democratic group crucial to John Kerry's presidential campaign has paid felons — some convicted of sex offenses, assault and burglary — to conduct door-to-door voter registration drives in at least three election swing states.
America Coming Together, contending that convicted criminals deserve a second chance in society, employs felons as voter canvassers in major metropolitan areas in Missouri, Florida, Ohio and perhaps in other states among the 17 it is targeting in its drive. Some of the felons lived in halfway houses, and at least four returned to prison.
ACT canvassers ask residents which issues are important to them and, if they are not registered, sign them up as voters. They gather telephone numbers and other personal information, such as driver's license numbers or partial Social Security numbers, depending on what a state requires for voter registration.
I will happily agree that there doesn't seem to be anything illegal about that sort of thing. I will even more happily point out that many deeply, appallingly stupid things are legal in this country. But actual voter fraud is not:
Investigation reveals phony registration cards
07:49 AM CDT on Thursday, October 7, 2004
By JAMIE ALLMAN
KMOV News 4 has learned that hundreds of voter registration cards are bogus.
Sleuths at the St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners are trashing hundreds of faulty voter registrations, most of them collected by voter drive groups like Pro-Vote and America Coming Together.
Commissioner David Welch initially played down the matter. The Republican election board director is cautious about making general accusations, accepting explanations from groups like Pro-Vote.
The article notes that the culprits were probably Gaspard's felons. Presumably it was this kind of sloppy work that resulted in ACT getting spanked in 2007:
WASHINGTON –The Federal Election Commission (FEC/Commission) announced today that it has reached a settlement with America Coming Together (ACT) regarding violations of federal campaign finance laws during the 2004 Presidential election. ACT, a federal political action committee (PAC) that also has a non-federal account registered under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, agreed to pay $775,000 to settle charges that it used funds raised outside federal limits and source prohibitions to pay for expenses that should have been paid with funds raised within the federal contribution limits and prohibitions. This settlement represents the third largest civil penalty in an enforcement matter in the Commission’s thirty-three year history. The Commission unanimously approved the conciliation agreement.
ACT raised approximately $137 million in connection with the 2004 elections - approximately $33.5 million in federal funds and approximately $103.5 million in non-federal funds. ACT’s activities focused on voter contact, voter registration and get-out-the-vote activities in 17 states. The FEC concluded that approximately $70 million in disbursements characterized by ACT as “administrative expenses” for door-to-door canvassing, direct mail and telemarketing were actually attributable to clearly identified federal candidates and were required either to be paid with 100% federal funds or to be allocated between federal and non-federal candidates based on the time or space devoted to the candidates. Under either method, ACT was required to use a substantially higher proportion of federal funds than that reflected in either the estimated or adjusted funds expended allocation ratio for administrative expenses used by ACT in 2003-2004.
The Commission also concluded that even for the approximately $30 million in disbursements that could properly be characterized as administrative and generic voter drive expenses, ACT should have used at least 90% federal and 10% non-federal funds. Therefore, ACT should have used approximately $27 million in federal funds and approximately $3 million in non-federal funds to pay for these expenses.
...but by then Gaspard had started working for SEIU; by the time he was finally successfully headhunted by the Obama campaign he was Executive Vice President for that union, not to mention an active lobbyist. It's no real secret why Obama wants him - Gaspard is apparently considered to be very good at ground operations. He was certainly good enough to help get NYC City Councilmember Mathieu Eugene elected, even after the first election had to be thrown out when it was discovered that Mr. Eugene didn't actually meet residency requirements.
I need hardly note that the Ohio and national GOP organization is up in arms about the hire.
At this point we probably have somebody jumping up and down, pathetically eager to ask "So what?" After all, no laws were bro... OK, some laws were apparently broken under Gaspard's watch, but neither he, nor his group at the time, ever actually had to admit to any wrongdoing. And politics ain't beanbag, so absent an actual conviction the fact remains that this guy's apparently a heavy hitter with a skill set that Obama could find useful, which should be the most important consideration for the Senator's campaign. So why bring it up now?
Partisan politics, of course - but the problem is, in this case politics that we're being partisan about involves clear ethical standards. Senator Barack Obama is consciously and deliberately portraying himself as the outsider, the reformer, the fellow with the message of Hope and Change that We've been Waiting For: take your pick. This is, of course, a lie: he's actually a politico from the Illinois Combine who hires NYC machine street monsters with flexible ethics to run his ground game. Here's the thing: he's allowed to do that. He's allowed to lie to his supporters. He's allowed to be a hypocrite.
But over the last few days, I've generally seen two types of responses among Obama's supporters with regard to his betrayal of them over both FISA, and public financing: shocked disbelief that the Master (who loved them, and who would never harm them!) has betrayed their trust; and hasty revisionism that well, of course nobody ever really believed all that hype about Senator Obama in the first place, perish the thought, it was all made up by the Right. To the first group, I would like to thank them for reaffirming my low opinion of their collective intelligence; to the second, I suggest that they don't assume that we're as dumb as the first group. You people really did believe the hype, and you really shouldn't have.
Really? 270 million dollars argues otherwise. Unless you want to claim that it was all one big credit card scam?