Buried deep in the copy in Taxpayer funds may be going towards political campaign communications, Josh Moniz's article in today's New Ulm Journal that looks at the way cell phones have minimized the clout of regulation created in the wake of the Phonegate scandal:
The best example of the potential problem can be seen in Sen. Mike Parry's (R-Waseca) campaign for Minnesota's 1st Congressional District. Parry has two cell phones that are now being actively used in his campaign. In the past, Parry went to lengths to differentiate his first phone as his legislative work phone and his second phone as his congressional campaign phone. Prior to Monday, Parry had submitted receipts to be reimbursed at least once for each phone. Since Parry's second phone has been consistently used for campaign activity, the reimbursement would have been paying for campaign expenses with taxpayer funds.
When asked Monday about the filing, the Parry campaign sent a press release stating that the incorrect phone number was submitted by mistake.
"Senator Parry made an honest mistake and submitted the incorrect cell phone bill on March 30, 2012. Earlier [Monday], Senator Parry submitted the correct bill so the Fiscal Office can update the information," stated the press release.
The Parry campaign stated that it would not return the reimbursement, citing that a real cost has been incurred on the legislative phone. The campaign claimed that despite filing the wrong phone receipts, the reimbursement had gone toward the correct bill.
Whatever the case may be with Parry's phone bill Moniz seems to have unearthed a potential ethics and spending issue created by the widespread adoption of mobile technology after the rules were written. The next session of the legislature might want to tweek that.
For now, perhaps diligent investigators can discover whether Parry's state senate campaign committee or/his federal congressional campaign also paid for that cell phone bill in a case of double or even triple dipping. As readers learned in February, there was potential for curious spending when a candidate kept both state and federal campaign committees.
While they're at it, they might want to find out who paid for mileage for the Parry for Congress truck the state senator drove to the state capitol to conduct a hearing in which he accused Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie of using public dollars to campaign. Bluestem is mildly surprised by the notion that Parry worries about this behavior on behalf of other elected officials.
Photo: Mike Parry's congressional campaign vehicle parked outside of the state capitol while he conducted official business inside. Who pays for that mileage? Photo via via LitHappens' tweet: So... Sen. Parry asks if the SOS is campaigning on the job? http://twitpic.com/a9r6pw
Emo Senator: Amnesia plot twist thickened as Mike Parry forgot which office he was running for (mileage and other expenses compared in Parry's state senate and FEC reports)