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McBride/McAuliffe Seeks to Block Funding Probe
Miami Herald ^ | 9/25/02 | Peter Wallsten

Posted on 09/25/2002 9:23:19 PM PDT by windchime

McBride seeks to block funding probe

BY PETER WALLSTEN pwallsten@herald.com

TALLAHASSEE - Hoping to shield a controversial political committee that pumped nearly $2 million into TV ads boosting Bill McBride's candidacy for governor, the candidate's campaign and the committee are going to court to block a state investigation.

The legal maneuvers come as the Florida Elections Commission has sent questionnaires to McBride and state teachers' union president Maureen Dinnen -- whose group set up the committee -- seeking sworn statements concerning what they knew about the ads and when they knew it.

The court filings set up a potentially nasty -- and high-profile -- legal battle between a Democratic nominee looking to compete against Gov. Jeb Bush's massive political machine and a GOP incumbent seeking to thwart McBride's every effort.

The Democrats have hired two top-gun attorneys, former 2000 recount lawyer Ron Meyer representing the teachers' union committee and prominent criminal defense lawyer Bob Harper for the McBride campaign.

GAVE MOMENTUM

The ads, paid for by a new corporation called Florida Education Association Quality Public Education Corporation Inc., were credited with giving McBride the momentum he needed to engineer his stunning upset over former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno in the Sept. 10 primary.

They also gave the former unknown Tampa lawyer enhanced name recognition, putting him in better position to challenge Bush.

But the ads, which featured a biographical sketch of McBride dating back to his days as a Marine in Vietnam, came under fire since they debuted in July.

For starters, the teachers' union kept secret the list of donors to QPEC, creating the corporation in July under a provision in the federal tax code that allows so-called ''issue advocacy'' groups to shield their contributors.

GOP COMPLAINT

The Republican Party complained that the ads broke the law because they specifically endorsed McBride rather than espousing a particular cause or issue. State laws require that so-called issue advocacy groups stick to pushing ideas, not individuals. The GOP's complaint contended that if the ads did not qualify as issue advocacy, they were then simply contributions to McBride's campaign -- and exceeded the $500 limit on such donations.

The FEC voted last month to investigate based on the GOP complaint.

Lawyers for McBride and the committee, however, argue that the ads were perfectly legal.

In court papers filed late last week in Lakeland and Tallahassee, the lawyers argue that the FEC inquiry threatens the committee's constitutional rights.

ADS PULLED OFF

The union voluntarily pulled the ads off the air after the inquiry began and some TV stations expressed concern.

''What's at stake here is whether the Florida Elections Commission may properly go on with this kind of fishing expedition and chill the free exercise of speech and association that QPEC and its members have,'' said Meyer.

But Republican strategists worry that, if the committee is allowed to continue, McBride will enjoy a ''stealth'' campaign operation financed by unknown contributors.

The GOP has raised additional questions about the ties between the Democratic candidate and the teachers' union since the campaign announced last week that the union's leading lobbyist would be McBride's new campaign manager.

QPEC is required by law to reveal its donors to date in a federal tax filing next month, but it will be free to raise money without further disclosure through the Nov. 5 election.

'The teachers' union purchased the primary for Bill McBride,'' said Bush campaign spokesman Todd Harris. ``When an organization is spending millions and millions of dollars to elect somebody governor, the public has a right to know where that money comes from.''

The questionnaires sent to McBride and Dinnen suggest that the FEC is examining how closely the campaign, its media consultant David Doak and QPEC were tied when the ads were produced.

Doak produced McBride ads both for the teachers' committee and for the campaign itself.

In an affidavit, investigators ask McBride whether he was aware that QPEC planned the ads, whether an ''agent of your campaign'' helped create the ads, whether he gave QPEC the photographs used in the commercial, and if his campaign sought advice as to whether the commercials exceeded contribution limits.

McBride spokesman Alan Stonecipher declined to say whether QPEC and the teachers' union campaign coordinated efforts, referring to laws requiring FEC investigations to be kept confidential.

But he said the campaign would not oppose releasing the list of donors to QPEC.

''If it were up to us we'd go ahead and have them disclosed sooner rather than later,'' Stonecipher said. ``There's nothing that anybody will be surprised about.''

Meyer said Tuesday that the teachers' union did not act in collaboration with the campaign, and that the two organizations held separate contracts with Doak.

''The FEA and the teachers and education employees of Florida knew very well what they wanted to do,'' Meyer said. ``They didn't need to be invited by the McBride campaign.''


TOPICS: News/Current Events; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: election; florida; governor

1 posted on 09/25/2002 9:23:19 PM PDT by windchime
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To: Brandonmark; Alex P. Keaton; JulieRNR21; floriduh voter; summer
Take a look at this one!
2 posted on 09/25/2002 9:28:52 PM PDT by PhiKapMom
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To: windchime
1) If they are not doing something wrong, they would be willing to make it public.

2) They are desperate to hide something from the public, it probably stinks to high heaven!

3 posted on 09/25/2002 9:36:24 PM PDT by goody2shooz
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To: PhiKapMom
CFR is a joke, the dims are committed to breaking any law at any time to achieve any goal.
4 posted on 09/25/2002 9:38:18 PM PDT by jwalsh07
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To: PhiKapMom; summer; Joe Brower; windchime; floriduh voter; Ragtime Cowgirl
The Republican Party complained that the ads broke the law because they specifically endorsed McBride rather than espousing a particular cause or issue. State laws require that so-called issue advocacy groups stick to pushing ideas, not individuals. The GOP's complaint contended that if the ads did not qualify as issue advocacy, they were then simply contributions to McBride's campaign -- and exceeded the $500 limit on such donations.

Glad to see the FL GOP going after them....about time! The FL RATs know every way to try to circumvent the campaign finance laws....Clinton/Gore/McAwful were their teachers!

5 posted on 09/25/2002 9:40:10 PM PDT by JulieRNR21
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To: goody2shooz
Right on both counts!
6 posted on 09/25/2002 9:41:15 PM PDT by windchime
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To: JulieRNR21
Any idea, though, if any thing will come of this BEFORE the election?
7 posted on 09/25/2002 9:44:58 PM PDT by justshe
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To: PhiKapMom; windchime; dorben; gatorman; Fearless Flyers; Luke FReeman; Clemenza; ...
Thanks for the ping....BUMPing more Freepers!
8 posted on 09/25/2002 9:45:28 PM PDT by JulieRNR21
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To: justshe
Any idea, though, if any thing will come of this BEFORE the election?

I pray it does & the illegal tactics of McBribe & McAwful get exposed!

9 posted on 09/25/2002 9:47:27 PM PDT by JulieRNR21
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To: windchime
Why, everytime I see McBride, I check to see if my wallet is still in my pocket.
10 posted on 09/25/2002 9:48:05 PM PDT by bybybill
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To: windchime
Maureen Dinnen's letter to the governor -- 4.23.02

April 23, 2002

Governor Jeb Bush
The Capitol, Room PL05
Tallahassee, Florida 32399

Dear Governor Bush:

I am writing you to request that you immediately correct or pull the misleading ads that began airing today throughout Florida on behalf of your campaign.

One of the Bush ads touts, “Our test scores have increased dramatically.” As you know, with the changes made to the grading of the FCAT test during your administration, that statement simply has no relationship to the truth.

As the Orlando Sentinel reported, more than 18,000 students – one out of every 10 fourth-graders tested last year – were not counted in FCAT results. That you would seek to take credit for the obviously skewed results insults every teacher, student and parent working hard to do their part for education in Florida.

A healthy debate on education policy will be important in the 2002 campaign. I encourage you to help to keep that debate grounded in reality.

Teachers working in today’s classrooms see an entirely different picture than the one you paint in your ads. The thousands of teachers who will go without raises this year and struggle to keep up with larger classes than ever would tell a completely different story than the one your campaign is promoting.

Again, I call on you to level with Floridians about what’s really happening in our classrooms and to pull this misleading ad from the air.

Sincerely,

Maureen Dinnen
President

11 posted on 09/25/2002 9:48:39 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: windchime
RE School Vouchers

Starcannon -
August 6, 2002 at 7:40 AM

So once again, the public "education" (wink wink nod nod) system shows its greed for tax dollars and its contempt for parents. this little quote; ""We knew when a judge looked at it that he would side with us," said Maureen Dinnen, president of the Florida Education Association, the state's teachers union. "It is absolutely wrong to divert tax money to private schools. Now we can focus on public schools again." end quote" shows me that MONEY for an organization, in this case the Public Educational System is more important than the Children that said money was set aside for anyway. Makes me sick to know that people like Maureen Dinnen can hold such powerful positions that they might actually be able to convince our elected officials to stab us in the back like that. I can't really think of anymore to say on this subject without getting very emotional, and personal, and besides doesn't Maureen Dinnen's quote speak for itself?

Sincerely, Robby Cannon

12 posted on 09/25/2002 9:49:45 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: JulieRNR21
FL GOP looks to have their ducks in order on McBride from everything I have seen. Wish more State parties did!
13 posted on 09/25/2002 9:50:52 PM PDT by PhiKapMom
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To: bybybill
You mean the Tax and Spend team of McBride and his sidekick? I would hide my wallet too!
14 posted on 09/25/2002 9:51:32 PM PDT by PhiKapMom
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To: windchime
Maureen Dinnen of the Florida Education Association, " Bill BcBride answered the questions more thoroughly, he answered the questions in a resounding way and he had a presence that we thought would take him into the Governor's office. We want a governor, who listens to us, who cooperates with us, we're not going to get our way all the time of course, but gosh it would be nice to be part of the conversation."


The union interviewed House Minority Leader Lois Frankel, former US Attorney General Janet Reno and Sen. Daryl Jones Of Miami. The teachers say Governor Jeb Bush wasn't available for an interview. But Lt. Governor Brogan says he and Bush are disappointed the union didn't work with them.

Lt. Governor Frank Brogan stated "All i know is that it is unfortunate that a seated Governor was not given the respect and the courtesy to try and rearrange schedules for what probably would have been a one hour interview, if he had been given that chance."


15 posted on 09/25/2002 9:56:25 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: Liz
Put on your hip-waders!
16 posted on 09/25/2002 9:57:24 PM PDT by Registered
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To: windchime
FEA RALLIES BEHIND 'McBRIDE MIRACLE' Leaders and activists for the Florida Education Association gathered this month to celebrate Bill McBride's dramatic victory in the Democratic gubernatorial primary--and to mobilize for a McBride victory against incumbent Jeb Bush in the general election. FEA, a merged AFT-NEA state affiliate, was the first major organization to endorse McBride and mobilized aggressively to help voters learn more about the candidate and his positive, sensible platform for public education. It was a gamble to endorse McBride, a Tampa attorney whose name recognition early on was less than 10 percent among Florida voters, but it was a chance well worth taking, FEA president Maureen Dinnen, also an AFT vice president, told activists gathered at a Sept. 14 McBride victory celebration in Orlando. "His understanding of our issues, sincerity and enthusiasm came through loudly and clearly," Dinnen told the crowd. "We have endured such a drought of good news during these very barren Bush years the prospect of a having real leadership in the governor's office is very exciting… with your continued help we are going to make it happen."
17 posted on 09/25/2002 9:58:35 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: PhiKapMom
FL GOP looks to have their ducks in order on McBride from everything I have seen. Wish more State parties did!

FL GOP better stay on top of those weasels....they know every dirty trick....and will use them to try to defeat the President's brother and gain the most critical state for 2004 Election.

18 posted on 09/25/2002 10:01:09 PM PDT by JulieRNR21
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To: Registered
The close ties are obvious. McBride's new campaign manager, Cathy Kelly, has served as the FEA's director of government relations for 15 years and Tony Welch, the union's communications director, is serving as a campaign spokesman.

The union collected more than $60,000 for McBride by asking its members to write out checks for $20.02, said union President Maureen Dinnen. She said more probably contributed directly to the campaign.

She estimates the union spent $1.5 million on ads designed to give voters background on McBride. In addition, it's backed McBride in newsletters it sends out to each of its 122,000 members.

Republican Party of Florida Chairman Al Cardenas believes the amount spent to help McBride win is much higher.

"They spent over $5 million in the primary -- something that never happened in Florida's political history before," Cardenas said. "They essentially bought themselves a candidate for the general election lock, stock and barrel. They have literally taken over the McBride campaign."

Dinnen said the talk is campaign rhetoric from a party that has a long history of bashing the union.

"It's a very strange attitude among the Bush campaign that teachers should not be active in politics, as if we were second class citizens," Dinnen said. "We think this is the most important election in the past 50 years in Florida and we also think education is on the chopping block."

The union collects $183.50 a year from each of its members, which calculates to more than $20 million a year.

Brogan, a former teacher, principal, school superintendent and education commissioner, said he has dealt with the Florida Education Association for many years in many roles and argues that it is interested in labor issues above quality education.

"I am convinced that while they will continue to bellow that this is about education and Bill McBride is good for education, what they mean is that whoever they support will be good for the union bosses and the dues payers," Brogan said.

McBride responded: "He should be ashamed of saying something like that because the FEA agenda is about education and making our schools work for kids."



19 posted on 09/25/2002 10:02:42 PM PDT by kcvl
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To: JulieRNR21
I agree with you 100% -- they have really targeted Florida! Two RAT Lawyers controlled by mcauliffe -- that is really scarey!
20 posted on 09/25/2002 10:03:24 PM PDT by PhiKapMom
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To: windchime
legal battle between a Democratic nominee looking to compete against Gov. Jeb Bush's massive political machine and a GOP incumbent seeking to thwart McBride's every effort.

Anyone notice the bias from the Miami Herald ?

21 posted on 09/25/2002 10:08:09 PM PDT by staytrue
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To: windchime
ov. Jeb Bush's massive political machine and a GOP incumbent seeking to thwart McBride's every effort.

Funny, never see them term, say, Gray Davis in this way, and he is the king of massive politial machines. Such propaganda. It is obvious this group of thieves have something to hide here, but then, we knew that in advance.

22 posted on 09/25/2002 10:09:15 PM PDT by ladyinred
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To: staytrue
Well, gosh - we wouldn't want to hold the RATS accountable, would we? I mean, that's just plain unfair...there are no laws for RATS...don't you know that yet? /sarcasm
23 posted on 09/25/2002 10:10:56 PM PDT by Wait4Truth
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To: PhiKapMom
read post 21 and send an email to this guy. I just did. His email address is in the article.
24 posted on 09/25/2002 10:13:11 PM PDT by staytrue
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To: Wait4Truth; All
Read post 21 and complain to the Herald about bias. click here for the email form
25 posted on 09/25/2002 10:26:02 PM PDT by staytrue
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To: ladyinred
read post 25 and click and send an email to the herald to complain.
26 posted on 09/25/2002 10:28:10 PM PDT by staytrue
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To: All
I missed the change in campaign managers the first time I read this. Perhaps the removal of McAuliffe's father-in-law as campaign manager is to nestle McAuliffe deeper into the shadows of this campaign. Perhaps the Bush campaign was going to use it and they found out.???

They are very determined! We need to think the same way we would if JEB's opponent was one of the Clintons. This denial of information to FEC could even be a diversion while they play some underhanded game of another kind.

Links to suspicious events in lower profile campaigns:
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/756412/posts
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/757175/posts

We need to watch this campaign just as we watch for terrorist activity.
27 posted on 09/25/2002 10:43:18 PM PDT by windchime
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To: kcvl
Wow, good stuff. Looks like from your posts that you've been following this issue closely.
28 posted on 09/25/2002 10:47:14 PM PDT by windchime
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To: windchime
Note to Repubs:

Hey, geniuses, if the Demos never obeyed the campaign finance laws in the past, why were you so eager to pass more laws?

And if no one ever prosecuted any Demos in the past, why would you think anyone would prosecute them in the future?

Could Repubs best be characterized as suicidal? or suckers? Someone help me here.

Note to Demos:

Not to worry. If anyone says anything, just say that what happened is further proof of the need for more campaign finance reform, which the Republicans continue to oppose. Works every time.
29 posted on 09/25/2002 11:10:03 PM PDT by marron
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To: kcvl
"They spent over $5 million in the primary ..."

"The union collects $183.50 a year from each of its members, which calculates to more than $20 million a year."

Am I reading this correctly ... did they spend 1/4 of their annual budget just to win the primary? Is it reasonable for any organization to spend 25% of its receipts on a political campaign?

30 posted on 09/25/2002 11:30:12 PM PDT by SWake
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To: BlackRazor; Coop; Torie; crasher; Free the USA; Fish out of Water; deport; Dog Gone
Things that make one go hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm
31 posted on 09/26/2002 12:25:06 AM PDT by KQQL
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To: JulieRNR21


32 posted on 09/26/2002 1:12:08 AM PDT by Joe Brower
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To: Registered
Just when you think the Dims are as low as they can go, they reach down to new depths of corruption.
33 posted on 09/26/2002 2:22:41 AM PDT by Liz
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To: marron
"why were you so eager to pass more laws?"

In regard to Republicans and campaign finance laws, I'm clueless. Makes one consider many possibilities without reaching a solid conclusion.

"Not to worry. If anyone says anything, just say that what happened is further proof of the need for more campaign finance reform, which the Republicans continue to oppose. Works every time."

The dems do have a way with words. They can turn any issue around on a dime!
34 posted on 09/26/2002 6:32:37 AM PDT by windchime
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To: Joe Brower

Ain't that the TRUTH!

BTW what are you doing posting at 4 AM? Do you ever sleep?

35 posted on 09/26/2002 7:13:02 AM PDT by JulieRNR21
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To: JulieRNR21
Thanks for the ping, Julie. (^:
But when it comes to core ideology, no one in the field outflanks him on the left. That, of course, could be a ruinous niche nationally, but not statewide.

He's unabashedly supportive of public schools and teachers and activist on behalf of the environment and minority inclusion. He sees the value in unions and the good in affirmative action. He believes gays and lesbians should enjoy the same legal rights and benefits as married couples. He is, as he has said, a "proud and unapologetic Democrat."

"To suggest that any private school is better than a public school is disgraceful…" Bill McBride.
Link


How are you going to pay for those new school improvements you say we need, Mr. McBride?

A new 50-cent per pack tax on cigarettes, used only for schools, would produce almost $600 million a year, he said.

Removing sales tax exemptions on some items such as stadium skyboxes and tanning salons could up the total to almost $1 billion, he said.
Link


New taxes to pay for McBride and the teachers unions' "Class Size" amendment scheme? The most detailed critique of the expensive folly that is the Class Size Amendment can be found at FloridaTaxWatch.org, a group Alex Sink, McBride's own wife, was affiliated with. Florida can't afford this bill, nor this Bill.

Another opinion:

CLASS SIZE AMENDMENT WOULD HANDCUFF EDUCATION AND GOVERNMENT

A seemingly well-intentioned constitutional amendment that proposes smaller class sizes could significantly cripple K-12 schools, community colleges and universities if it passes. If this amendment passes, we will almost immediately need 32,000 new teachers, new classrooms at a cost of $9 billion, and another $2.5 billion to pay for the new teachers -- and $2.5 billion is more than it costs to run all 11 of our public universities to give you a reference point for the cost of this bad amendment. (continue

Link
It isn't difficult to find this info. Why can't the press?

Incidentally, Florida press:
Is Jeb actually ahead of the curve on education? The jury's in - and they side with: Jeb.
JEB Gets An "A" (Wall Street Journal)

36 posted on 09/26/2002 7:20:53 AM PDT by Ragtime Cowgirl
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To: JulieRNR21
what are you doing posting at 4 AM? Do you ever sleep?

When our kids let us. Our baby girl was crying for another bottle, and I couldn't get back to sleep after taking care of that. All in a day's work... !

37 posted on 09/26/2002 8:04:10 AM PDT by Joe Brower
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To: Joe Brower
When our kids let us. Our baby girl was crying for another bottle, and I couldn't get back to sleep after taking care of that. All in a day's work... !

Yes...remember those days very well....with 4 sons...seems like we were sleep deprived for decades....LOL

38 posted on 09/26/2002 8:09:40 AM PDT by JulieRNR21
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