Reichert Gets $500k Illegal Corporate Gift from Local Seattle TV Stations

by: Matt Stoller

Mon Oct 20, 2008 at 20:58

So I'm looking at some data provided by Seattle political media buyers, and there's an extremely odd phenomenon going on with Dave Reichert's fundraising and spending.  As of October 1, Reichert had around $1.2 million of cash on hand, and he's reportedly raised about $10k in 48 hour statements.  Reichert's TV buy until October 20 is around $675k, leaving him with a little over a half a million dollars left.  Oddly, he's reserved $725k just for October 20-26 (the largest TV buy ever in this district), and $375K for October 27 - November 4.  That's $1.1 million of broadcast time bought, $600K more than he has.

How is this possible?  There are no records showing he's self-funding, and he doesn't really have enough assets to do that anyway (if he lost, he'd basically be broke).  What seems to be happening is that the four television stations - King TV, Kiro TV, Komo TV, and Q13 Fox - seem to be extending credit to Reichert.  That is unheard of.  Unlike commercial clients with good credit, political campaigns pay upfront because they are not reliable institutions.  As a matter of common sense, TV stations (or any business) don't offer credit to a campaign that may not exist in three weeks.

The rationale two of the stations are offering is that Reichert's media buyer, Media Plus, is getting credit from these TV stations, not Reichert's campaign.  And Media Plus has an extensive relationship with local TV stations, as is evident in their corporate website where they openly brag about influencing news content with advertising dollars:

media plus

This is genuinely unbelievable.  What Reichert is doing is getting a loan from TV stations via his media buyer, and he'll pay it back with corporate PAC money should he win.  It is a temporary corporate transfer of $500k into a Republican campaign done with the complicity of local television stations, stations owned by national chains and carrying content from NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox.

The FEC has made it clear that this is illegal.

If you loan money to a candidate or political committee, you have made a contribution, even if you charge interest on the loan. The outstanding amount of the loan counts against the contribution limits. Loan repayments, therefore, decrease the amount of your contribution.  

Nevertheless, if your loan exceeds the limits, it is an illegal contribution, even if it is later repaid in full. Endorsements and guarantees of  bank loans are also considered contributions. Endorsers and guarantors are liable for equal portions of a loan unless the agreement states otherwise. You alone, therefore, may not endorse a $10,000 loan to a candidate committee. There must be four other individual endorsers so that each one is liable only for $2,300, the per­ election limit.

Matt Stoller :: Reichert Gets $500k Illegal Corporate Gift from Local Seattle TV Stations

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Where is Darcy's legal counsel? ... (4.00 / 3)
Are they on this? .. Have you notified them?

[ Parent ]
Great Story (4.00 / 1)
And one the Seattle newspapers would love, especially if it involves shady dealings by TV stations (unless they own one of them).

FCC (0.00 / 0)
Is this grounds for losing your FCC broadcast license?

Gee (4.00 / 1)
Good catch. You really ought to contact the local media up there. Maybe drop a line to one of the local TV stations. A political scandal like this has got to be good for ratings...

How can using Media Plus as the man-in-the-middle help? (0.00 / 0)
TV-Stations giving credit to Media Plus may be barely legal, reagrding the exact wording of the law. But then, Media Plus isn't allowed to give Reichert credit, or is it? Reichert has to pay them for the media time, or else it's an illegal  contribution. In my understanding, using an intermediary only produces a smokescreen, but doesn't make the practise legal in any way.

Burner should make an ad and issue of this (0.00 / 0)
Focus all her media on this media issue, bring in the FCC, have the DCCC and DNC make a stink about it, put a ton of pressure on the broadast networks that a huge fine is coming because THEY ARE BREAKING THE LAW.  Will the networks retaliate with unfavorable coverage, maybe, or maybe CNN may pick it up since they are going against the networks.  MSNBC probably won't touch it.

Two weeks left, time to choose, full on pedal to the metal on this.


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