Over the last week, I wrote about allegations involving offers to pay the campaign debts of two Republican candidates who endorsed former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Julianne Ortman's campaign. These issues came during a review of Ortman’s campaign finance reports after inconsistencies were made public by the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Ortman declined to provide copies of her updated FEC reports, writing in an email last week that her committee's campaign finance reports would be "available in a couple of days on the FEC website."
Today the FEC posted the campaign reports filed by the campaign committee. This included one overdue report, and amendments to every previously filed report. The reports filed this week by Ortman's treasurer, Charles P. Erickson, who is also a member of the Waconia City Council, clear up some of the issues raised by the FEC, but also generate more questions about the financing of her candidacy for the U.S. Senate.
One of the major questions raised by the FEC was related to inconsistent opening and closing cash on hand balances on two consecutive reports, creating the appearance of almost $130,000 in “missing” funds, which I detailed here. The new reports correct this inconsistency, but over 100 pages of the campaign’s newly amended April Quarterly Report are missing, including all of the pages which would detail the campaign’s expenditures.
It is unclear whether Ortman’s campaign failed to send all of the pages to the FEC, or whether there was an error when the reports were scanned by officials with the Secretary of the U.S. Senate. (Candidates for U.S. Senate file their paperwork on paper forms, not electronically.) A phone call to the FEC was not immediately returned, and Ortman and her treasurer did not respond to a request for comment about the missing pages.
Without the detail that should be included in the missing pages, it is impossible to reconcile the report that was previously filed with the new report to determine what was changed. It is also not possible to tell where and how the campaign’s money was spent.
In an unusual move, Ortman’s campaign this week also filed amendments to every report that they had previously filed with the FEC. In each of the reports (except the 2014 Pre-Primary Report, which only covers three week’s time) Ortman’s campaign overstated the amount of money it had raised and understated the amount of money her campaign had spent, which led to inflated cash on hand totals at the closing of the reporting period.
In total, the campaign understated its expenditures and overstated its cash on hand by almost $80,000 in the April Quarterly Report, which was the last report that was published prior to the Republican Party of Minnesota’s endorsing convention in May. Ortman told a reporter on April 17 that her campaign had “about "$250,000" cash on hand when the actual amount, according to these new reports was $151,000.
The chart below details the variances in Ortman's camapign finance reports filed by her committee.
Ortman’s October Quarterly Report, which was due on October 15 but filed this week shows the campaign with cash on hand of $182.74 and outstanding debts of over $44,000.
The campaign must file one more report for this reporting year, which is due on January 31, 2015.
Picture source: Julianne Ortman for U.S. Senate