Wednesday, June 11, 2003

Here's a surprise!
A.B. Stoddard in the Boston Globe - Common Cause head accused of law violations:
WASHINGTON -- The president of Common Cause is facing allegations that she violated federal election laws in her Democratic race for the US Senate last year, causing embarrassment for the nonprofit lobbying group that is a leading advocate for campaign finance reform.

In her unsuccessful bid to unseat Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, Chellie Pingree invited donors to circumvent the limits on contributions to candidates for federal office. Pingree, a former majority leader in the Maine Senate, was hired by Common Cause after the election. Now she is the target of a Federal Election Commission audit, and election law specialists who analyzed mailings obtained by the Globe say that at least one of the two solicitations was illegal.

The Pingree campaign, said William B. Canfield, a federal elections attorney at Williams and Jensen and incoming chairman of the American Bar Association's standing committee on election law, ''clearly and inarguably'' violated federal law in a July 2002 solicitation letter.
One might think this would cause a momentary pause in the sanctimonious whining from Common Cause. But one would be wrong:
Pingree's attorney, Marc Elias, hired to represent her in the FEC audit, said that the laws the campaign operated under are subject to interpretation and that ''there's nothing particularly unusual or out of the ordinary about this letter.''

Derek Bok, chairman of the Common Cause board and former president of Harvard University, said he expects the FEC audit to find ''no major flouting of the rules that would really cast doubt on her integrity. I don't think she would have taken the position if that were the case.''
I guess being president of Harvard doesn't guarantee that you are the sharpest tool in the drawer. One other thing:
In addition, just weeks after taking the reins at Common Cause, Pingree attended a Democratic fund-raiser, despite the group's nonpartisan credentials.
What nonpartisan credentials?