On February 19, the Demmer for Congress campaign commitee filed amended quarterly reports with the FEC in which a $131,000 campaign debt from the Hayfield representative's 2008 is back on the books.
The debt had vanished without explanation in earlier amended reports filed at the end of 2009. The absence of the debt--unpaid loans made by the Hayfield Republican to his committee during his unsuccessful 2007-2008 cycle bid for endorsement in Minnesota's First Congressional District--had made his second attempt at gaining the GOP nod appear to be in the black.
Bluestem had noted the issue in earlier posts. On January 8, I published How much cash did state Rep. Randy Demmer's congressional committee have on hand in 2009? and, on January 29, Do these reports add up? Demmer's year-end quarterly FEC report posted. The discrepancy was not examined elsewhere, as other media venues overlooked the error.
Why does this matter? No candidate seeking the Republican endorsement in the First had raised the money in the off year to fund a viable campaign.
Since fundraising frontrunner Allen Quist pocketed a mere $37,103 in receipts, including $4000 from the candidate himself, and retained $30,781.37 cash on hand, Demmer's balance sheet of $19,200.00 for the quarter ($10,176.52 COH) didn't look as anemic in the absence of the lingering debt. I doubt the Demmer committee had any intent to deceive, though missing debt made things seem rosier.
The only other contender, Jim Hagedorn, trailed Quist and Demmer with a meager $5150 raised.
Demmer, former state representative and social conservative Quist, DC-insider Hagedorn, insurance salesman and National Guard Lt. Col. Jim Engstrand and retired veteran Frank McKinzie are seeking the Republican endorsement to challenge Congressman Tim Walz.
Update 3/5: the Engstrand team seems to have realized there's a problem as well, and has filed amended documents which were posted today.. Let's hope that addresses the problems noted below. [end update]
Now if only the legacy media would take a look at another candidate's peculiar committee structure that Bluestem examined in MN01 candidates: the case of Engstrand's unauthorized committee. The disclaimer on the bottom of Engstrand's campaign website is listed as "Paid for by Jim Engstrand for US Congress - EJ Paul, Treasurer - 9304 105th St NW - Pine Island, MN 55963." However, no paperwork for "Jim Engstrand for US Congress" has been filed with the FEC.
Rather, the only paperwork related to Engstrand's bid is for the Committee To Draft Jim Engstrand For US Congress District 1 MN. This is neither a candidate nor authorized committee, and i understand federal campaign finance regulations correctly, any money raised by this vehicle can not be used by the candidate's committee in the event paperwork for one is eventually filed with the FEC.
An unathorized committee does not seem to meet the definition of an exploratory committee as defined on pages 2-3 of this FEC candidates' guide. Moreover, while it is unclear to me so far as to whether money contributed to the unauthorized committee may be transferred to a to-be-formed "Jim Engstrand for Congress" committee, FEC documents do make it clear that contributions to the existing single-candidate "Draft" committee will be applied to aggregate limits on contributions by individuals and other committees.
Those who click on the "Donate" button on Engstrand's "Contributing" page are led to a Paypal screen (see screenshot to the right) where it's unclear whether the money is going to the Committee to Draft Jim Engstrand for U.S. Congress, the name displayed at the top of the account, or to the Jim Engstrand for Congress, to the left of the account box near the middle of the screen.
To learn where the money would go, I threw in my two cents; the receipt Paypal provided said the Committee to Draft Jim Engstrand for U.S. Congress, and the contact number* is that of Cynthia"CJ" Werner, the same as the office number listed for Werner by the Duncanville Board of School Trustees. Is Engstrand's entire website paid by this committee?
Images: Randy Demmer (above); Paypal page linked to Engstrand for Congress website.
*This Texas number also appears in a tweet from Jim Engstrand twitter made by a CJ Newman to Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX8). Bluestem posted an in-depth look at Werner/Newman in Eyes of Texas are upon us; or, Werner comes from Lone Star to North Star for Engstrand.