As I first wrote on last Friday, according to two former Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate, Andy Parrish, the campaign manager to then-Republican U.S. Senate candidate Julianne Ortman had conversations with them at the Republican State Convention in Rochester earlier this year, about the candidates endorsing Ortman’s candidacy in exchange for the payment of campaign debt by Ortman’s campaign.

In multiple interviews, Monti Moreno of Marine-on-St.-Croix and Phillip Parrish of Medford, confirmed Andy Parrish [no relation to Phillip Parrish] approached them both separately during the balloting for the Republican Party of Minnesota‘s endorsement for U.S. Senate with a request to endorse Ortman.

Both said Andy Parrish voluntarily inquired of each candidate about any campaign debt they may have and the possibility of repaying some of the debt in exchange for their endorsement of Ortman.

Moreno accepted the deal he claims Andy Parrish made and endorsed Ortman’s candidacy for payment of “up to $5,000” – an amount Moreno said he never completely collected. Phillip Parrish refused to even discuss the specifics of any formal payment of debt and voluntarily endorsed Ortman. 

Moreno said Andy Parrish told him he would write a check the following Monday after the Republican State Convention. After failing to reach Andy Parrish on the phone in the days following the Republican State Convention, Moreno said he drove to Ortman’s campaign office to speak with Andy Parrish about the money he claims he was owed. 

Moreno then drove to the restaurant and confronted Parrish about the payment he claims he was owed for endorsing Ortman. Moreno said he then left the restaurant and traveled back to Ortman’s campaign office, where Andy Parrish then wrote him a check for $400. Moreno said he expressed his frustration with the amount he was paid, as he was promised “up to $5,000” by Andy Parrish to endorse Ortman. 

Federal campaign finance laws require U.S. Senate campaigns committees (along with other political entities) to file quarterly reports of their financial transactions with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).  Once an individual’s contribution level reaches over $200, the committee should report the name, address, employer and occupation of the contributor.

What is complicating the story of Andy Parrish’s reported contribution of $400 to Moreno’s campaign is that Moreno has not filed any campaign finance reports in 2014, as required by campaign finance laws. Last week, Moreno said he estimated that his committee raised and spent “approximately $10,000.” 

A spokesperson with the FEC said this morning that a committee is required to file reports if the committee raises and spends over $5,000. By Moreno’s own definition of his committee’s financial activity, he would be required to file reports with the FEC. I asked Moreno about why his campaign committee had not filed reports with the FEC and he said he was waiting to resolve the issue with the payment he claims he is owed from Ortman’s campaign. 

Andy Parrish declined to comment on $400 check Moreno claims he received from Andy Parrish in Ortman’s campaign office. 

In our lengthy interview last week, Ortman would not specifically answer repeated questions if her campaign committee wrote a check to Moreno. Ortman wrote, “I don't know about a check to Moreno” but declined to answer if her campaign committee wrote Moreno a check. 

Charles P. Erickson, who serves as Ortman’s campaign treasurer and is a member of the Waconia City Council, did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Jim Sanborn, who is listed as the assistant treasurer of Ortman’s campaign committee and was recently elected as the mayor of Waconia, would not answer any additional questions about the committee’s filings with the FEC.

As with Moreno’s campaign finance report, Ortman has not filed timely reports with the FEC. Ortman’s committee failed to file an October Quarterly Report and the FEC has notified her treasurer in September that a cash balance discrepancy of almost $130,000 appears the reports filled with the FEC.

Four days ago, Ortman wrote that her committee’s overdue campaign finance reports would be “available in a couple of days on the FEC website.” As of today, the FEC has also yet to publish updated finance reports from either Moreno or Ortman’s campaign. 

Picture source: Andy Parrish, Julianne Ortman for U.S. Senate, Monti Moreno for U.S. Senate

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Candidate charge: Ortman advisor paid for endorsement

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Ortman's new campaign finance reports raise more questions