December 30, 2005

Any truth to Benson's charge against Johnston? Maybe.

In this post from a few days ago, I cited Bernie Schoenburg's column in the State Journal-Register which reported that challenger for 17th District Democractic State Central Committeeman Tom Benson had suggested that "most of the money raised by [current Committeeman Don] Johnston's 17th District organization is spent on JV Consulting, Johnston’s own direct-mail and advertising business."

The Moline Democratic Central Committee was burning the midnight oil and filed an ammended Semi-annual report at 2:35 AM this morning (a mere 4 hours ago as I write this) which can be viewed here.

The ammended report differs from the original only in that it no longer reports $225 going to Connie Mohr-Wright and $100 to JoAnne Lambrecht-Peck, which were perhaps improperly reported as expenditures for some reason.

Peeking at their 6 reported expenditures in the ammended report totalling $2,760.75, we find 4 of them went to JV (Johnston Veronda) Consulting for a total of $1,723.75 or 62.4% of their expenditures. (the remaining two went to the post office, $37 for stamps and $1000 for "mailing", whatever that is.)

I guess that qualifies as "most" of their money going to PV Consulting, at least in the case of the Moline Central Committee.

9 Comments:

At 12/30/2005 3:21 PM, Blogger Tom Benson said...

I will offer these facts to support my statement regarding how the 17th Committee spends their money to help the Democratic party.

Since 2003 the 17th District State Central Committee has raised over $140,000 and spent almost $110,000, a balance of $45,471 was on the books on 6/30/05. We will not get a new report until the end of January I am sure.

Of that total, $30,000 went to the winners of the yearly draw down raffle, $21,700 went to the RI Postmaster for postage and supplies (assume an average bulk rate per piece of mail of $0.15, which is too low, and that would at the most be 145,000 pieces of mail), $21,500 was paid to JV Consulting for rent, consulting services, mail, printing, office supplies, telephone services, etc., over $10,000 was invested in office supplies and equipment, $8,770 in expenditures was NOT itemized, outside printing was $8,300, $4,275 was allocated to fundraising expenses, and $2,500 was contributed or transferred to Democratic Candidate's Committees.

How much of the 17th Committee's resources are being used by JV Consulting at no cost? I did not notice any contributions or reimbursements from JV Consulting to the 17th Committee. There seems to be an inherent conflict of interest in being the State Central Committeeman and running a business that earns a substantial amount of income from that position.

I pledge to use the money donated by supporters of the Democratic Party to support Democratic candidates across the entire 17th District and only offset personal expenses related to the job as allowed by law. In case you all don't know this job has a salary of $0.00.

During the same time period of 2003-2005, JV Consulting received almost $8,500 from Clarence M. Darrow for printing, mail and promotional items. I could not find any disclosure of in kind contributions by the 17th Committee to Mr. Darrow's campaign, so I assume he paid full price. Pat Veronda spent $2,613 with JV Consulting for mail, postage and printing. I could not find any disclosure of in-kind contributions to her campaign from the 17th.

In an interesting transaction, the Henry County Democrats on 10/27/04 donated $2000 to the 17th and purchased $4,100 in services from JV Consulting the same day.

In kind contributions greater than $150 are required to be reported under 10 ILCS 5/9-9.5 of the Illinois Campaign Finance Law. Since I could not find any of these in the 17th's reports I have to assume that these contributions have not been made as claimed. The mail volume claimed also seems to be quite a stretch.

I will also pledge an end to automated phone calls, these are an intrusion on our privacy and just plain annoying, they do more damage than good.

I am asking for your vote for effective, honest and proven leadership for the future of the Democratic party, Tom Benson for 17th District State Central Committeeman.

 
At 12/30/2005 10:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

tom,

Careful on your assumptions and insinuations...claims of slander are made too easily in the world of politics...especially where you leave fingerprints.

I think you raise a fair point in regard to the amount of services purchased by the 17th district committee from jv consulting, but the true question is not whether services were purchased, but whether or not the committee paid a fair price for goods or services that it needed.

In regard to the volume of business generated for jv consulting for candidates and office holders, if you search the ISBE website by vendor (both jv consulting and j.v. consulting), you'll find nearly $150,000 in purchases by democratic candidates from jv consulting over the last few years. Just about every local democratic candidate and a few statewide candidates are on the list, including Denny Jacobs, Mike Boland, Mike Grchan, Pat Veronda, Pat O'Brien, Tom Killbride, Clarence Darrow, John Schmidt, Will Kalinak, Herb Schultz, etc. Perhaps these candidates gave him favorable consideration because of his position or perhaps they favored him because his company does a good job. I don't think it's fair to imply anything more without impugning the character of all involved.

 
At 12/30/2005 11:07 PM, Anonymous Rahm said...

Anon, you have a right to your opinion, of course, but I think you're far too willing to turn a blind eye to things and assume everything's just peachy.

Benson did not accuse Johnston of making excessive profits, at least I didn't see that in his comments.

He simply questioned whether it's proper to have someone who both raises money from candidates and the public and then essentially gives a large portion of it back to himself through contracts with his own company.

If the reason that would be cause for concern escapes you, I'm afraid you're not paying attention.

No one's made any accusations of illegality. But it's certainly fair game, and perfectly legitimate for Benson to question the apparent conflict of interest this obviously gives the appearance of.

 
At 12/30/2005 11:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

rahm-a-tom,

I'm not turning a blind eye, I'm just trying to frame the questions. I don't have a goal of defending jv or johnston, but rather just want to have fair questions among us democrats and not fall into rovian (or headusher) attacks.

I never spoke to excess profits either. My point is that the question should be whether or not jv consulting was overpaid. If jv sells a good product, the product should be available for purchase by the 17th committee, but not at a price greater than what a competitor would charge. My thought was for tom do his research there. Otherwise, I don't think it's fair to say johnston "gives a large portion of it back to himself" if jv is providing real services for the payments. We can't expect jv to provide free services.

Anyway, I've spent too much time and thought on this stuff, and I'm going to bed.

 
At 12/30/2005 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

rahm-a-tom,

I'm not turning a blind eye, I'm just trying to frame the questions. I don't have a goal of defending jv or johnston, but rather just want to have fair questions among us democrats and not fall into rovian (or headusher) attacks.

I never spoke to excess profits either. My point is that the question should be whether or not jv consulting was overpaid. If jv sells a good product, the product should be available for purchase by the 17th committee, but not at a price greater than what a competitor would charge. My thought was for tom do his research there. Otherwise, I don't think it's fair to say johnston "gives a large portion of it back to himself" if jv is providing real services for the payments. We can't expect jv to provide free services.

Anyway, I've spent too much time and thought on this stuff, and I'm going to bed.

 
At 12/30/2005 11:31 PM, Anonymous Rahm said...

Anon... me too...

By the way, I am NOT Tom Benson... as you can see, he posts using his own name if he has something to say. And I'm not speaking for him either.

Is still think you're making a distinction without a difference.

It's not about "excessive profits" or "charging too much", which are exactly the same thing, though you act like they're somehow different.

Even if Johnston provided his services at a fair price, which it's assumed he does, it's still legit to question the fact that he gets so much business directly from money raised by his political committee.

While this isn't an exact analogy, it's as if the same guy that stood in front of a store at Christmas ringing a bell to collect money to buy toys for the needy was also the same guy that owned a toy store.
And he takes a large portion of the funds he raises and buys toys from himself.

The point is not if he overcharges for the toys, it's whether the whole circular arrangement is proper.

Hope you see my point (and what I assume is Benson's as well)

I'm off to hop in the rack as well.

 
At 2/26/2006 6:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don Johnston does nothing but run crooked campaigns. How is this you ask?

He sent out an invitation for a fund raisor for Mike Grchan for Sheriff, and stated that several R.I.Co. office holders support him. This is not true. They will cheat, lie, and steel to win. Is this right?

Jeff Terronez' name was on it, he is supporting Huff. Mike Jacobs' name was on it, he is not supporting Grchan, he stated that he had his own problems with his own race. Diane Robinson does not support Grchan. Luan Kerr does not support Grchan (County Treasurer), she supports Huff. There were also a few County board members cited as supporting Grchan. Again, not true.

Feel free to contact these people and find out for yourself. This is true. Where does Johnston's lies and Grchan's end.

I hope Tom Benson takes Johnston's position. Go Tom!

 
At 2/26/2006 6:33 PM, Blogger The Inside Dope said...

The above comment is improper on a few levels.

First, you should have asked these people yourself whether they endorse Grchan or not rather than just asserting it here anonymously. That doesn't cut it.

Secondly, I don't want comments to contain electioneering with people urging readers to vote one way or another.

Please be careful of these things in the future.

 
At 4/18/2007 6:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No, benson is just a career liar.

 

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