The other day a clip of an interview the local Time Warner Cable station did with two House candidates came across my desk. You had to look carefully, but it revealed what appears to be a federal campaign finance law violation on the part of a sitting member of Congress. It is probably not a major violation, but the idea that it happened at all and furthermore that it was left in the open for a television camera to catch makes me ask a lot of questions and none of the possible answers are pretty or inspire confidence in this member of our Congress. Let’s explore.
The piece was an interview done with Democrat John McNeil and Republican George Holding who are vying for North Carolina’s Second Congressional District. McNeil and Holding were interviewed and along with some other footage the report was spliced together. My compliments go to Time Warner who did a commendable job of covering a local race and giving their viewers a quick comparison of the contestants’ stances.
The Holding portion of the interview was conducted in his campaign office. As the camera panned the room it showed a bunch of blue campaign signs stacked in front of a bunch of red campaign signs. I’ve worked campaigns before and this is a common method of stacking signs making it easy for someone to pick up one of each. The blue signs are paid for by the Holding campaign, however if you look closely you will see that the red signs are the work of freedomworksforamerica.org. Freedomworks is a 501(c) (4); better known as a super PAC. Federal law prohibits campaigns from coordinating with Super PAC’s. If you have PAC signs in your campaign headquarters next to your signs I’d call that coordination and I think most other voters in North Carolina’s Second Congressional District would agree. This begs the question: How much deeper does the coordination go?
In full disclosure I am a McNeil backer having endorsed him here on September 6th and already having voted for him during early voting. I did so based on policy and character. I have also criticized Holding on more than one occasion usually referring to him as “Sleeping” George which is in recognition of him being caught on live national television asleep in the Speaker’s chair while supposedly presiding over the House of Representatives in October of 2013.
In my opinion the biggest problem in American politics is the influence of money in elections. Holding comes from a wealthy family and is one of the richest members of Congress. McNeil is far from wealthy. Holding can easily outspend McNeil from his personal fortune alone. Holding also has the advantage of incumbency. This is McNeil’s first run for public office. That begs the questions: Why does Holding need outside the district money and did he feel the need to cheat? 501(c) (4)’s like Freedomworks do not have to disclose who their donors are. This is what is commonly called dark money. For years the word has been that Freedomworks’ main financiers are the Koch brothers and that has never been refuted.
Why does Holding feel he can get away with this? Is it some feeling of being above the law because he comes from privilege? Is it simply arrogance working in unison with feelings of superiority to and contempt for the “commoners” beneath him? I find it frightening and difficult to believe that he is ignorant of the law. Perhaps he is simply indifferent to the law. You be the judge. Here is a link to Time warner’s video which is easily found on the Internet: http://www.twcnews.com/nc/triangle-sandhills/news/2016/10/31/district-2-congressional-seat-between-john-mcneil-and-george-holding.html
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