Yoo Hoo! Is anyone out there in Asheville for BoE Meeting this morning?

Is anyone able to do a live blog from Asheville today from the State Board of Elections Meeting? I think it would make for quite riveting reading.

Especially about those pesky reports on airplane chartered flights? Not to mention instant run-off voting in the state-wide race for NC Supreme Court justice this fall!


real reason for lack of accountability for airplane rides

One thing that never dawned on me is to connect the dots between the unaccounted for campaign flights and my experience with the campaign staffs when running the Wake Sign Shop. It could come down to inexperienced people who are not used to being held to high standards of accountability.

When I helped set up and run the Wake Dem's sign shop in 2008, I pretty much did all the coordination with the campaign staffs. I made a list of all the candidates who we needed signs for, got the names and contact info for the staffer who was supposed to handle signs (usually 45 days before the start of Early Voting), and contacted them by phone and e-mail to inform them of our schedule. The schedule had lots of white space on it, because I know how crazy campaigns can get, and I figured to leave them lots of room.

And I also know that sometimes staff changes - gets bigger, or even smaller, and duties get re-assigned. I try to factor in for that.

But my God - you wouldn't believe the people who can't follow directions or respond to an e-mail or return a call. Let's take signs.

We told them we only needed a small number of signs for Early Voting no later than the the Thursday BEFORE Early Voting started because we would be bundling the Saturday before Early Voting started. We also told them that we needed needed all the signs for the 198 precincts plus some spares a week before election day so we could bundle by Friday and start distributing signs over the weekend.

In the May primary, we didn't get the Obama signs until the end of the day that we were bundling signs for the Early Voting sites. But we almost didn't get them. I went downtown during the middle of the bundling and asked for the signs - I was told by some young kid they weren't going to do signs because that wasn't their style. Luckily, an older staffer (older than me and I was 48 in 2008) got her husband to deliver ALL the signs that afternoon. So we just took the loose signs to each Early Voting site with the already bundled signs. We were able to bundle the Obama signs with the precinct bundles. Because of that experience, I made sure to keep an eye on the Obama crew for the General Election.

In the Fall it became more interesting. A few legislative candidates and a judge or two didn't get us any signs until the last minute - I mean like one guy brought in his signs 30 minutes before the crews came into do the bundling. And bundling was a big deal - we had three bundles of signs for each precinct: Two bundles with close to 15 signs in each bundle for each precinct (the same signs for all 198 precincts) and one bundle with the precinct specific signs (for US Congress and NC house and senate) - so close to 600 separate bundles.

Then we had to count out the slate cards and divide them up based on the number of expected voters per precinct, and include poll greeter info with each batch. After we bagged and tagged them and laid them out on tables by precinct, staffers from one campaign came in on Monday afternoon (the day before the election) and asked us to divide up some fliers for them among the precincts for that candidate. After most of the signs and lit bundles had already gone out and with a limited number of volunteers who were already working hard to get signs to precinct leaders coming in to pick them up. Un-freaking-believable!

So seeing all that, I can understand how paperwork for airplane flights can get lost. The donors might intentionally be trying to buy influence, but I believe there is a process in place to report the flights and other stuff. I just think that most of the people working the campaign are too young to give a damn about following the rules or being accountable. Both parties have the same lack of accountability, but the GOP just has less problems with it. Why? Could be they are better (but not perfect) about marching in goose-step and following orders - and being held accountable.

But I see a big problem in our party with hiring young kids who don't pay attention to details and then leave the candidates looking foolish AFTER the campaign is over with. Both sides have the problem, only to a different degree. But it's only the Republicans who go all out trying to make it into an issue of corruption. But since politicians in both parties are working very hard not to be held accountable to the voters, it's hard for the Democrats in power to hold the younger staffers accountable simply because their are so damned many of them!

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

Inexcusable decision by SBOE

What part of the report did you not grasp? Or did you even read it? Bet ya didn't read it.

The scenarios you laid out for how a report could get lost have absolutely NOTHING in common with what happened within the Perdue committee. I'd say "nice try," Chris, but it's actually pretty feeble. Let me say at the outset that no novice campaign workers were involved at all. And the idea that Zach Ambrose didn't give a damn about how to do it right is a real thigh slapper.

This wasn't about a lot of people being tasked with directions they didn't follow. This was about a decision made by a core few who developed and maintained the very well developed process for maintaining records, who had all that information in one place and yet refused to report it.

This wasn't about information from a series of different offices being collected to be routed to a central office. This was about information generated within the central office and kept there -- on a spreadsheet.

This wasn't about the information getting lost or mishandled or a turnover in staff. The decision was to hold back information. The information was there, was secure, was not being handed off to various and sundry people. All the information that Perdue belatedly turned in was there in one place on that spreadsheet back in 2008. They didn't have to start over from scratch to compile the data -- as their attorney falsely claimed. And this claim was from John Wallace, the attorney, by the way, who said, "oh, no need to interview Zach Ambrose; he wasn't involved."

Except that he was. In fact he was key. But following the Governor's wishes, SBOE refused to let Strach interview him. Then the newspaper got wind of it. Suddenly, the SBOE decided Strach could interview Zach after all. And he still didn't tell her about the existence of the spread sheet that he helped develop and maintain. Odd?

It wasn't until Strach interviewed Will Polk that she discovered the spreadsheet's existence. The governor's campaign, which was well aware of Strach's time constraints (intense pressure to wrap it up so they could get it in and out of the newspaper by September), somehow managed not to turn it over until the day before her supplemental report was due.

Didn't you think it the least bit strange that the best Farinella could come up with, when asked why the campaign didn't disclose the existence of the spreadsheet at the onset of the investigation was "She didn't ask?" WHAT?

I don't think it was a coincidence that some of the donors who had provided flights had exceeded their maximum contributions and were scrambling to find ways to attribute the contributions to others.

The fact is that the indications in that report that the failure to report may have been intentional were quite strong. In fact, if Governor Perdue's committee can shrug and say, "Oops,"given all the relevant circumstances in this case, I cannot imagine what campaign is ever going to feel compelled to comply with the law for timely disclosure.

SBOE just threw the door wide open for campaigns to withold disclosure until well after the point of their pertinence to a campaign. What sane campaign wouldn't rather just rake in as much $$$ in illegal contributions as possible when being held accountable is so unlikely?

No I havent' read it

but you can't say that there were no novice campaign workers involved with this stuff. Who do you think does all the copying, filing, taking of messages, etc., that goes on in a campaign?

Here's a clue - it's not the big cheeses. If someone at the low end of the totem poll screws up, the results can and do snowball up the chain of command.

And I am not trying to excuse the problem with excess/illegal contributions and the failure to disclose them. If you have read my writings (and I bet you haven't done so - other than with this one), you know I have no love for the money-laundering part of the Democratic Party or ANY party. I favor 100% public campaign financing and strict limits on spending and in-kind contributions so that no candidate or party has an advantage based on money - just on ideas.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

Read the report. It takes less time than your rationalization.

Here is a clue. Zach Ambrose was not a novice.
Here is another clue: no one involved with scheduling or arranging or tracking the flight records was a novice.

You're spouting off about what you assume must have happened, you're way off target, and you still insist upon your version -- after admitting you haven't even read the report! Talk about credibility.

Open your eyes.

Open your own eyes!

Have you ever worked on a campaign? If so - which one and how long ago?

Campaigns are the biggest three-ring circus around. And with all these young kids doing MOST of the work, and they report up the chain to people who report up the chain - and so on - that you don't know exactly how the actions of the low schmuck on the totem poll can actually have a significant effect on the campaign - good or bad.

I worked as a low-schmuck volunteer in the 1998 Edwards campaign, and I can tell you that had it not been for the fact that I mentioned something that I knew only because I was at least 10 years older than the average staffer, we would not have gotten out from under a significant accusation from the Faircloth campaign. I won't say what it was, and won't say who I was reporting to, but the kids running the campaign didn't have a clue what was going on. But I did. So I know how the clueless can make or break a campaign.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

Just quit stalling and read the report, Chris

1. Yes, I have worked on many campaigns, and hell no, I will not tell you which. (Except that they were all democrats)
2. I accept your self- designation as schmuck, but your experience does not change what Perdue staff has already acknowledged and what the documents unearthed as a result of the investigation show.
3. Why don't you read the report?
4. Did you notice that at the hearing before SBOE that neither Wallace nor Farinella disputed a single fact in the report?
5. I am beginning to suspect that you'd rather just keep making assertions about your inapplicable experience than risk reading the report and discovering how off your comparison is.