PA-13: Leach Files FEC Complaint Against Margolies
The bitter war between former Congresswoman Marjorie Margolies and her Democratic opponents entered a new chapter today as the campaign of State Senator Daylin Leach disclosed that they are filing a FEC complaint alleging Margolies broke campaign finance laws.
“We’re here to talk about a campaign that blatantly, flagrantly, knowingly and repeatedly broke the law,” Leach said during a press conference call with reporters. “[It was] a clear, unambiguous, repeated breach of the law.”
The Leach campaign provided ample evidence, in the form of charts, tables, and even full blown-up posters to document how the Margolies campaign broke FEC law by spending general election funds during the primary.
According to the documents compiled by the Leach campaign based off Margolies’ latest fundraising report, her campaign first dipped into the red on January 15th and didn’t get into the black on primary cash on hand again until March 31st, the day before the first quarter deadline.
At the worst point, March 19th, the Margolies campaign would’ve spent anywhere from $71,427.94 to $78,065.94 of general election funds depending on unitemized contributions.
On the call Leach was characteristically not shy about expressing his opinion of Margolies’ actions, declaring that her campaign decided to “say to hell with the law.” He stated that this shows the “utter contempt in which her campaign holds the voters and the law” and asserted that “they had to cheat to survive so they decided to cheat, hundreds of times, day after day after day.”
In a piece that ran in the Philadelphia Inquirer this morning, Margolies spokesman Ken Smukler slapped down the charges of the Leach campaign. “[The Margolies campaign] has at all times complied with campaign laws. Period.” He further took a swipe at the State Senator by describing this whole episode as an attack intended “to save his desperate campaign.”
On the call, Chris Brennan of the Daily News got into a long debate with Leach and his lawyer Adam Bonin over a 2009 FEC decision that Smukler pointed out to defend the legality of the Margolies campaign’s actions. In that case, a candidate that was alleged to have used general election funds was acquitted.
Leach and Bonin argued that in that case, the FEC did not rule the general election spending legal because the campaign had a surplus of primary COH by the end of the quarter, as Smukler seemed to be indicating. Rather, they asserted, the FEC ruled that the overall lack of evidence was the determinative factor in that case. Bonin also referred to a section of election law that maintained this law applies “at all times.”
In response to a question about Smukler’s statement that his campaign was desperate, Leach pointed to their lead in fundraising and primary COH.
“You know the first lesson in ‘hack politics 101’ is whenever anyone attacks you, to say its desperation,” Leach responded. He then went on to decry the fact that Smukler and not the candidate was speak about this.
“Why isn’t Marjorie talking about this? Isn’t this her campaign? Where’s Marjorie?” he asked.
Leach also challenged the notion that Marjorie is the front-runner pointing out that the poll the Margolies campaign has repeatedly cited was an internal poll from August. He stated there are only two purposes to internal polls 1. Get information 2. Create a narrative. Leach suggested that he is focused on the former while Margolies is focused on the latter.
The candidate additionally pointed out that according to her reports, the ex-Rep. hasn’t spent any money on field operations. “No, I don’t see her as a front-runner at all” he finished.
Finally, when another reporter brought up past allegations against Marjorie, Leach referred to her claim that she recused herself from a vote to raise her pay, which the Huffington Post has disputed.
“Life just seems to happen around Marjorie, nothing is ever her fault,” the candidate sarcastically summarized.
Update: The Margolies campaign released the following statement:
Marjorie 2014 used an acceptable accounting method to distinguish between general and primary funds and at no time did Marjorie 2014 access general election funds for expenditures in this primary. Any assertion to the contrary will be found without merit.
Marjorie 2014 has retained Karl Sandstrom of Perkins Coie to represent the campaign before the FEC.
Update 2: Aren Platt, a senior advisor in the Leach campaign, reached out to PoliticsPA to respond to the Margolies campaign’s statement.
“The campaign finance report speaks for itself,” Platt said. “It would be mathematically impossible for Marjorie 2014 to spend the level they did the past quarter without using general election funds.”
He also outlined three ways the Margolies campaign could prove their accusations wrong.
1. Release the full details of their accounting methods concerning primary and general election funds.
2. Provide a day-to-day leger for their campaign’s finances.
3. Release all bank statements from Marjorie 2014 since its inception.