Editor's note: The Chairman of the North Greenbush Democratic Committee, Dan Ashley, provided this press release which is published in its entirety. There is a story in the Record which you can read here.
Desso Holds Unlawful Fund Raiser
A fund raiser organized by GOP Legislative candidate Louis Desso to solicit campaign money for his expected run for the County Legislature is being conducted in violation of State Election Law, stated Dan Ashley, Chairman of the North Greenbush Democratic Committee. He cited in Section 14-118 of the law which states that “No officer, member or agent of any political committee shall receive any receipt, transfer or contribution, or make any expenditure or incur any liability until the committee shall have chosen a treasurer and depository and filed their names in accordance with this subdivision”.
Ashley called the fundraiser “part of a disturbing pattern and practice of illegally hiding from public view the money and donors solicited on his behalf." I say pattern because Mr. Desso did exactly the same thing last year when he and his running mates, Al Spain and Mark Evers held a similar fund raiser at Troy Elks Club under a Political Action Committee dubbed, “Bringing North Greenbush Together”, which they failed to register with the Board of Elections as required by law. Only after they received unwanted media attention, did the trio register the PAC and report their contributions.
The rules and laws to protect the public from illegal campaign contributions are being ignored by Mr. Desso once again, stated Ashley. I call upon him to immediately declare the Treasurer and bank depository or to cancel the event. His pattern of failing to comply with the law cultivates the potential for fraud on a substantial scale, stated Ashley.
By again failing to register a fund raising committee, Mr. Desso’s sources of contributions and the amounts donated will be hidden from public view. Also, enforcement of required Financial Disclosure Reports will be impossible absent the registration of his political action committee. Failing to register a fund raising committee also evades compliance of legal contribution limits established by State Law placing an unlawful and stealthy cloak of secrecy over his campaign financial transactions.
An appropriate complaint has been filed with the State Board of Elections in an effort to compel Mr. Desso’s compliance with the law. Penalties for knowingly evading the requirements of the law, specifically, soliciting any person to make any expenditures, for the purpose of evading the contribution limitations, shall be guilty of a class E felony.
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§ 14-118. Treasurer and depository of political committee; filing of name and address.
1. Every political committee shall have a treasurer and a depository, and shall cause the treasurer to keep detailed, bound accounts of all receipts, transfers, loans, liabilities, contributions and expenditures, made by the committee or any of its officers, members or agents acting under its authority or in its behalf. All such accounts shall be retained by a treasurer for a period
of five years from the date of the filing of the final statement with respect to the election, primary election or convention to which they pertain. No officer, member or agent of any political committee shall receive any receipt, transfer or contribution, or make any expenditure or incur any liability until the committee shall have chosen a treasurer and depository and filed their names in accordance with this subdivision. There shall be filed in the office in which the committee is required to file its statements under section 14-110 of this article, within five days after the choice of a treasurer and depository, a statement giving the name and address of the treasurer chosen, the name and address of any person authorized to sign checks by such treasurer, the name and address of the depository chosen and the candidate or candidates or ballot proposal or proposals the success or defeat of which the committee is to aid or take part; provided, however, that such statement shall not be required of a constituted committee and provided further that a political committee which makes no expenditures, to aid or take part in the election or defeat of a candidate, other than in the form of contributions, shall not be required to list the candidates being supported or opposed by such committee. Such statement shall be signed by the treasurer and all other persons authorized to sign checks.
Any change in the information required in any statement shall be reported, in an amended statement filed in the same manner and in the same office as an original statement filed under this section, within two days after it occurs. Only a banking organization authorized to do business in this state may be designated a depository hereunder.
14-126 THE ELECTION LAW 358
§ 14-126. Violations; penalties.
1. Any person who fails to file a statement required to be filed by this article shall be subject to a civil penalty, not in excess of five hundred dollars, to be recoverable in a special proceeding or civil action to be brought by the state board of elections or other board of elections.
2. Any person who knowingly and willfully fails to file a statement required to be filed by this article within ten days after the date provided for filing such statement or any person who knowingly and willfully violates any other provision of this article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
3. Any person who knowingly and willfully contributes, accepts or aids or participates in the acceptance of a contribution in an amount exceeding an applicable maximum specified in this article shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
4. Any person who shall, acting on behalf of a candidate or political committee knowingly and willfully solicit, organize or coordinate the formation of activities of one or more unauthorized committees, make expenditures in connection with the nomination for election or election of any candidate, or
§ 14-127. Notice of civil penalty to authorizing candidate.
If any person fails to file a statement of campaign receipts and expenditures for a candidate authorized political committee, and thereafter said person is a party to recovery of a civil penalty in a special proceeding or civil action brought by the state board of elections or other board of elections under section 14-126 of this article, said board of elections shall also provide the authorizing candidate with actual notice of the civil penalty, and the special proceeding or civil action by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by personal service.
Imagine a three time candidate for elective office saying he's "new to the election game" and too busy selling tickets to comply with the law? That's what Mr. Desso told the Record yesterday before dropping everything to drive to Troy where he finally filed the legally required documents with the County Board of Elections which he should have filed before he solicited a single dime. A dollar short and about four weeks late.
If we accept Mr. Desso's justification for failing to comply with the law before soliciting campaign cash, its no big deal to raise money and worry about the law later. "A lot of my time and energy has been devoted the last month or so into making this a success," he said. "And then I'll take a look at what paperwork has to be done, and whatever has to be done will be done." Well what the hell, raise thousands of dollars from undisclosed contributors, win the election and then tell people where the money came from, right Mr. Desso? Nice.
Now, before you pass the cocktails and caviar, remember that the law also requires you to file the documents with the State Board of Elections independently of the County Board. They will issue you a filer ID so you can report your contributions and expenses on July 15th. Unless of course, you follow the example of running mates Al Spain and Mark Evers from last year, who just didn't get around to it until they were tared and feathered in the press.