The shadowy group known as Virginians for Limited Government announced the other day that they have moved to a new address, different from the one on the mailers that they sent out to all the convention delegates. (Never mind that they lost the right to use the old address six months or so ago when the person living at that address severed ties with them.)
So, what is their new business address?
1602 Belle View Boulevard, No. 300, Alexandria, Virginia 22307-6531
The gang here at Virtucon was going to take a field trip and swing by there to find out more about this group and how rough a daily commute it must be for their president John Grandson who lives in Duluth, MN, but then we noticed this when we went to do a search for driving directions:
1602 BELLE VIEW BLVD
ALEXANDRIA, VA 22307-6531
Guess what — Parcel Plus has a mailbox #300 at that location. You can call them at (703) 660-0080 to confirm that yourself. (They won’t tell you who rents it, just that they have such a number.)
Since it seems that it is unlikely that their president would commute every day between Minnesota and a Parcel Plus post office box in a suburban Alexandria, VA strip mall, we figured that we would see what their chairman, who is local, is up to. Imagine our surprise when we discovered that not one, but two separate campaigns representing other candidates for Lt. Governor saw VLG’s chairman, Mr. Demetrios Kouzoukas, at the pre-convention walk through that the Republican Party of Virginia held for the campaigns at the Richmond Coliseum. Mr. Kouzoukas was there as the official representative of . . . the Corey Stewart for Lt. Governor campaign. GASP!
I know that you are as shocked by this as we are.
It is time for the Stewart campaign to stop B.S.-ing the convention delegates.
There is nothing illegal in Virginia about coordination between a campaign and an outside group that supports it.
It IS illegal when you try to hide that coordination – when you claim that what is truly an in-kind contribution to a campaign from the outside group is just an independent expenditure. Campaigns must report in-kind contributions. Transparency and disclosure is why our system works in Virginia. This scheme completely flaunts our laws.
It IS illegal when the disclaimer on the mail pieces states that it is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee when in fact it does meet the standards of being an in-kind contribution that the Virginia State Board of Elections so clearly sets out that even a couple of lawyers should be able to understand it.
Section 4.2 – In-Kind Contribution vs. Independent Expenditures
An independent expenditure is an expenditure which is intended to benefit a candidate (either by showing support for the candidate, or by showing displeasure with the candidate’s opponents), but one which has not been coordinated with the candidate or an agent of the candidate’s campaign committee. A candidate or an agent of their committee may have knowledge of an independent expenditure, but that does not necessarily mean that they have received an in-kind contribution.
To qualify as an in-kind contribution, the candidate or an agent of the candidate’s campaign committee must have either expressly requested or suggested to the person or committee that the expenditure be made, or the candidate or an agent of the candidate campaign committee must have material involvement in devising the strategy, content, means of dissemination, or timing of the expenditure.
According to SBE, merely suggesting that an expenditure be made qualifies. Given that the chairman of VLG is apparently officially representing the Stewart campaign to the RPV, that would easily raise things to the even more serious level of an agent of the campaign having a material involvement in the expenditure given his dual role.
Just remember, RPV only shares the convention delegate list with the candidates’ campaigns. VLG has the delegate list. VLG has attacked every candidate except Stewart who they have been promoting. It is not unreasonable to think that VLG acquired the delegate list from the Stewart campaign. How is that for coordination, whether it be suggesting an expenditure be made or material involvement?
There would be no problem whatsoever had the Stewart campaign either engaged in the negative attacks itself under its own banner or acknowledged that they were coordinating with VLG on them and reporting them as required as well as including the appropriate disclaimer. Instead, there are numerous violations of Virginia’s campaign finance statutes and potentially even federal mail fraud.
For the good of the party and for his own good, Corey Stewart should withdraw from the race for Lt. Governor. If not, I am confident that the delegates to the convention on Saturday will swiftly do that job for him.
UPDATE: The Stewart campaign is incredulously saying that it was a different guy named Demetrios who did the walk through for them. (Because Demetrios is such a common name in Virginia Republican politics.) That’s pretty unlikely given that this one from VLG has donated to Stewart in the past.