OPED to Miami Herald – 3/20/12
Re: Federal Election Commission-Corruption (“FEC”) and Roly keeps on rolling.
Much is written about campaign finance laws, crooked politicians, deceptive election tactics so your readers should know what happens when someone violates Federal election laws or more precisely Section 2 of the United States Code §§ 432 (e)(1), 433(a) and 434(a). Well, it depends. In this case, if you were trying to help the same political party as President Obama, the answer is absolutely nothing.
That is the outcome of the complaint I filed against a democrat plant called Roly Arrojo (I’m simply going to call him “Roly” as I am not sure that’s even his legal name).
In 2010, I ran for U.S. Congress. It was the election two years after Hope and Change when the tea party movement and regular Conservatives where up in arms against rampant spending and the passage of the job-killing health care law. As a “newbie” as your newspaper called me, I had no prior campaign experience and relied on the generosity of friends and family who were also not experienced in the political process. My campaign treasurer, a respected and knowledgeable CPA, who had never before (and will probably never again) handle a campaign account had an issue and filed my campaign’s final report a couple of days late. As treasurer, he was fined a couple of hundred dollars for the tardiness.
Meanwhile there was “Roly”, a “tea party” candidate who nobody seemed to know. He had filed no financial reports whatsoever, never appeared at any debates or answered to newspapers requests for interviews. The rumors, which were later confirmed, were that the Democrats had signed him up to syphon tea party-republican votes from the GOP candidate and being a tight political race (which proved not to be) this could have meant victory to Democrat candidate Joe Garcia. Let’s be fair, Republicans are also known to play these games and it is perfectly legal. The illegal aspect was Roly’s failure to file financial disclosures.
My FEC complaint against Roly included proof in the form of a printed flyer that not only showed his campaign had spent money on printing materials but also postage. Months went by and I didn’t hear anything about the complaint but I was sure expecting that Roly would in the very least receive a monetary fine.
The FEC’s letter to me was probably lost in the mail as I only found out today of the outcome of the case by looking it up on the FEC’s website.
As an attorney I got excited reading the opinion as the FEC found Roly and his campaign guilty of violating various election laws but pursuant to their Enforcement Priority System (“EPS”) they chose to dismiss both complaints against Roly who in response to my complaint had said that it was “baseless and incorrect.” The FEC took him at his word that he had not spent more than $5,000 (although their opinion contradicts that finding as the FEC acknowledged that Roly paid more than $10,000 just to get on the ballot) and used its EPS to unanimously dismiss the case and take no action whatsoever.
Bottom line, our system is completely broken. People like me who play by the rules get penalized but those of make a complete mockery of the system get away without any consequences whatsoever. It weakens our system as voters get a little more disenchanted and voter turn-out goes down even more.
Get ready for more shenanigans as 2012 elections are around the corner and who needs ACORN when EPS can give you a free pass from jail and the Roly’s will keep on rolling over us.