At the risk of reopening possible sore wounds, I would like to briefly revisit the issue of the straw poll at Gerry Connolly's St. Paddy's Day event, and the issue of tickets and campaigns. I decided to write this after returning from Friday's annual Gala for the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, this year honoring the Virginia Congressional Delegation. Several House members attended - I saw Moran, Perriello, and Connolly. Several canceled at the last minute because there were no Friday votes, so they left town - Nye, Wolf, Scott. Paul Reagan was there on behalf of Jim Webb. 5 Statewide Democratic candidates showed - Deeds, McAuliffe, Shannon, Signer and Wagner. I talked with them, with staff, and with a lot of other people. And as a result I think I can, without sourcing statements to any particular person, authoritatively describe what happened at the straw poll and the event.
First, all three gubernatorial campaigns had tickets purchased on their behalf. Please note the phrasing. I will return to this issue.
At least one LG campaign had tickets purchased.
Now, "on their behalf" - the St.Paddy's Day party was on behalf of Gerry, who is a Federal office holder. Thus FEC rules applied. I am told tickets were $40 each.
In a Federal campaign, unless you are a registered Federal PAC, the maximum contribution is 4,600 - 2,300 each for the primary and for the general. Were a campaign to try to by 200 tickets, that would be $8,000, well over the allowable limit.
I know for a fact that at least one gubernatorial campaign was not directly buying the tickets from campaign funds. Instead tickets were purchased by supporters on behalf of that campaign, and I suspect the same was true of other campaigns. At least one campaign purchased some tickets directly, but the number was limited enough hat the Federal limits were not approached.
Thus if people in Moran's campaign denied that the campaign was buying blocks of tickets, that was probably true. But that does not mean that arrangements were not mde for block purchases on their behalf. There were. As there were for both Deeds and McAuliffe.
Thus as far as I can determine, the accusation by some on behalf of Moran that McAuliffe was trying to buy the straw poll and they were not is false. The McAuliffe supporters may have bought more tickets than did the Moran supporters. That, folks, is evidence of a superior organization, at least for this event.
And remember, that in 2006 Connolly endorsed Miller (who also attended last night) but Webb won the straw poll.
I think some people are trying to be far too cute. Moran's people are correct in saying the campaign did not buy a block of tickets, but more than disingenuous in hruling accusations against the McAuliffe campaign when as far as I can determine both side were playing exactly the same game - as was the Deeds campaign.
Folks - let's be honest. It is fair to criticize one's opponent on policy where you disagree, to compare all aspects of prior records. It is worse than disingenuous, it is intellectually dishonest to accuse your opponent of something that (a) is not quite accurate (the McAulliffe campaign was not making bulk purchases using campaign funds); and (b) is in substance exactly what your campaign is doing - having supporters buy tickets on your behalf.
Brian Moran is too good a man and public servant for people in his campaign to be resorting to things such as this.
And for my final word on such straw polls - I think they stink. NO ONE should have to pay, or have their way paid, in order to express a political preference, in a primary, a general or a straw poll. The first two are covered by the 24th Amendment, which eliminated poll taxes for elections for Federal office. It is high time that Democrats stop using straw polls as a less than completely honest method of raising funds.