DA’s Race: Bundler PAC Charged Fees to Get on “Ballot”, Fined

Welp, at least we didn’t elect Tariq

In an unsurprising announcement from the Philadelphia’s Ethics Board, a fine has been levied against Trustwave PAC, an entity which the ethics board defines as:

Trustwave PAC is a political committee based in Philadelphia. On April 16, 2017, Kristen Stoner filed a Political Committee Registration Statement for Trustwave PAC with the Department of State. The Statement listed Derrick Susswell as Treasurer and Ismail Shahid as Chair of the PAC. On May 6, 2017, Ms. Stoner filed an amended Political Committee Registration Statement for Trustwave PAC that made her the Chair in place of Mr. Shahid.

While the PAC is getting fined a measly $4,000 there’s a few more interesting items in this press release. Here’s a few grafs worth noticing:

Among its expenditures, Trustwave PAC paid the consulting company Countywide Strategies for consulting services, including management of Trustwave’s ballot distribution in a part of Philadelphia. One of the principals/partners of Countywide Strategies is Steven Vaughn, who also held a leadership position in the El Shabazz campaign.

The candidate for Controller and most of the judicial candidates paid to be on Trustwave PAC’s ballot. The El Shabazz campaign contributed $5,000 to Trustwave PAC, approximately 5% of the total amount contributed by the candidates on the ballot. Given Mr. El Shabazz’s prominence on the ballot, the amount the other candidates contributed, and the amount Trustwave PAC spent to print and distribute it, the amount the El Shabazz campaign contributed was not the usual and normal charge.

The total amount Trustwave PAC charged candidates to be on its ballot was approximately $80,000. Trustwave PAC used this money, as agreed with those candidates, to promote their election. Trustwave PAC raised an additional $81,500 from non-candidate PACs, which it also used to pay for and distribute its sample ballot.

Hmm. So several different Democrats including Tariq El-Shabazz including a slew of judges running for office paid this PAC to print those shitty little sample ballots they stuff in your doors right before the primary.

The Ethics Board appears to have a problem with these types of “bundlers”, which try to split printing costs among a bunch of similar low-ranking candidates.

Instead of adding up all the campaign contribution limits of each candidate that was paying Trustwave to run their ballots, Trustwave was limited to only one candidate–namely the candidate that had the largest individual campaign contribution limit. The DA primary contribution limit was $23,800.

Given that City rules state that whenever a PAC directly coordinates activity with a candidate to influence an election, it counts as an in-kind contribution to that candidate. The Ethics Board states that the majority of Trustwave’s money came from other PACs plus other candidates and Tariq El-Shebazz only contributed 5% of the total cost. Since he benefitted from the full amount spent by Trustwave for his sample ballots, an in-kind contribution for the full amount should have been reported.