The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is poised to open an investigation into the endorsement of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association Political Action Committee, after email traffic and other materials from the group were passed to the Commission by several rival campaigns.
The HSLDA PAC last week planned to endorse Huckabee, but all of the internal email correspondence and notification of the endorsement took place, not via the HSLDA PAC, which can legally endorse, but the 501c3 HSLDA nonprofit, which is barred from overt political activity, such as fundraising for a candidate or endorsing.
All email traffic related to the letter's creation, editing, and distribution, as well as email of all of the draft materials that were forwarded to the Huckabee campaign for approval and editing, took place on HSLDA.org email addresses. One other email address was linked to Patrick Henry College.
The draft letter of endorsement, obtained by The American Spectator, clearly lays out ways HSLDA members can fundraise and donate to the Huckabee campaign, which has been financially floundering for months. In this year's first fundraising cycle, Huckabee's campaign raised less than $600,000. The endorsement letter read, in part:
We have taken this historic step of an early endorsement because the process of electing our President is based on a radically different timetable in this election. The vast majority of the primaries will be earlier than ever. If we do not act now, all conservatives will be driven from the race by lack of funding and we will be left with only unacceptable choices.
Thus, we urge our members to do four things:
1. Listen to our interview with Mike Huckabee and Mike Farris. (Link).
2. Support Mike Huckabee in your state's presidential primary (or other nomination process).
2. [sic] Please pray for him on a regular basis.
3. [sic] Please consider volunteering for his campaign. Here is a link to his campaign website.
4. [sic] Please make a donation TODAY to his campaign. (link). Do not think that it is insignificant because you cannot give thousands of dollars. A campaign like Huckabee's will only work when thousands of friends network together giving, $25, $50, $100, or even just $10 each. Frankly a campaign that receives $25 from 10,000 people is far stronger than a campaign that receives $10,000 from 25 people.
"It doesn't appear from the materials we've been given that HSLDA PAC was involved in any way with the planning of this endorsement," says an FEC staffer. "Everything was through the nonprofit arm. It doesn't appear that these folks even attempted to build a firewall, so it makes us wonder about coordination."
This wouldn't be the first time Huckabee ran into ethics issues. As governor of Arkansas, Huckabee, according to the Associated Press, faced 14 separate ethics complaints against him and his administration, with five resulting in findings that he violated ethics guidelines.
"Sometimes operations just don't change," says a paid consultant for a rival campaign to Huckabee's. "When you're desperate enough for support, you'll cut corners. That appears to be what Huckabee's campaign has done in this case. Going back to his time as governor, he appears willing to cut corners."
A staffer for the Huckabee campaign denied that it had ever seen the HSLDA materials or approved them. "This is complete surprise to us, we had no coordination whatsoever," says the source.
PROFILE IN COURAGE
Rep. Fortney "Pete" Stark (D-Calif.) accepted more than $1.3 million in political contributions from health insurance and health care companies between 1996 and 2006, according to campaign finance records. Nonetheless Stark and his staff served a key research resource for agitprop filmmaker Michael Moore's attack film on the American healthcare system, Sicko.
JUDY GIULIANI WATCH
A Republican presidential campaign that is struggling to stay afloat has been mulling an online game of "Where's Judy?" -- a takeoff on the "Where's Waldo?" children's book.
"No one has seen Rudy Giuliani's wife in a few weeks, we're kind of worried about her," says a cynical staffer for the rival campaign. "She was such an integral part of the operation, now she's nowhere to be found. If our supporters can help find her, we'd like to offer our help."
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