May 24, 2013
Campaign Spending Shows Political Ties, Self-Dealing
Posted on Mar 29, 2012
By Kim Barker and Al Shaw, ProPublica
On the Democratic side, NGP VAN, a company that sells software that helps with fundraising and FEC compliance, has done work for both the Obama campaign and two super PACs backing Obama. The Obama campaign has paid NGP VAN $130,000; the two super PACs have paid it less than $17,000.
Beyond potential coordination, the analysis done by ProPublica also showed how some who have set up super PACs are directing donors’ cash into their own pockets.
GOP strategist Nick Ryan, a former aide to Rick Santorum, for instance, started his direct-mail and telemarketing firm, Global Intermediate LLC, shortly after launching the pro-Santorum super PAC, the Red White and Blue Fund. Global Intermediate is now the second-biggest vendor for Red White and Blue, earning almost $1.9 million so far. While Ryan couldn’t be reached for comment, the super PAC’s spokesman, Stuart Roy, acknowledged in an email to the Los Angeles Times in February that Ryan’s participation with Global Intermediate was “no big mystery, they have done our phones and mail programs in multiple states (very effectively, I might add).”
Candidates are prohibited from using campaign funds for personal use and must pay “fair market value” if they hire companies run by relatives or other insiders, but super PACs, like regular PACs, have no such restrictions. For years, the FEC has asked Congress to expand the ban on candidates using campaign funds for personal use to PACs. So far, Congress has not acted.
Some insider transactions are on a smaller scale. A man named Gary Franchi Jr. runs both Revolution PAC, a super PAC known for its Ron Paul action figures, and Restore the Republic, a social networking site for Paul followers. Since last July, Revolution PAC has been paying Restore the Republic more than $1,700 a month for office rent. When asked if the office had telephones, desks and computers, Franchi replied: “Oh, yeah.”
But the office turned out to actually be a box in a Northbrook, Ill., UPS store. Franchi did not return follow-up calls for comment.
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