Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Where's the Money, Annie?

By Lisa Kaiser
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You know, I hate to target people personally, but ASA-backed MPS candidate Annie Woodward released a pretty unhinged press release attacking my blog post on her campaign finance report.

I’m not going to rehash Annie’s criticisms—they don’t make any sense whatsoever and she employs typical right-wing smear tactics to divert attention away from her own actions.

But I will lay out the facts as I know them:

The “ASA Executive Committee” sent out an e-mail on Feb. 19 asking for donations to Woodward’s campaign, and also the campaigns of MPS candidates ReDonna Rodgers and David Voeltner. The e-mail also stated that supporters could send one big check to the Milwaukee Fund for Public Education, c/o Kathy Ronco, at 1919 N. 48th St., along with instructions on how to divvy it up among the candidates. (Whether this e-mail is appropriate or legal is a matter for attorneys to figure out.)

Kathy Ronco is the head of the Highland Community School, an MPS charter school. The address listed for the fund is also the address given by Kevin Ronnie, an ASA honcho, on various campaign finance reports as his own address.

The Milwaukee Fund for Public Education is a conduit that dumped $50,000 into the campaigns of pro-voucher candidates right before the 2003 election. The fund’s administrator at the time was Bruce Thompson, a MPS board member who is one of the behind-the-scenes leaders of ASA.

The Milwaukee Fund for Public Education filed its pre-election report with the state Government Accountability Board. The filing shows that on March 26, 2009, it transferred $300 to Annie Woodward’s campaign. It also donated funds to ReDonna Rodgers, Larry Miller and David Voeltner.

Woodward did not report that $300 contribution on her pre-election financial report, dated March 29. Woodward said in her press release that she returned the contribution.

But wasn’t there another contribution from that conduit? Why in fact there was. Woodward’s pre-primary financial report, dated Feb. 9, shows that she received $500 from George Mosher. Woodward's campaign reports that donation as a conduit contribution via the Milwaukee Fund for Public Education. Woodward’s form lists the fund's address as 1919 N. 48th St., the Ronco/Ronnie address. It’s really difficult to determine the date of this transaction—the handwriting is wobbly, so it looks like “9/29/09.” Should that be “1/29/09” instead?

There’s no evidence that Woodward returned that $500. It's listed as her sole transfer-in from a committee. In fact, her forms state that she had no expenditures before the primary. (That's hard to believe, but whatever.) So there's no evidence that she returned it after she accepted it.

What's more, the tardy campaign finance reports filed last week by ASA show that it contributed $600 to Woodward’s campaign on Feb. 5. There’s no evidence on any of these forms that Woodward reported that contribution. ASA didn’t report that it got that money back. ASA made the same contributions to Voeltner and Rodgers on the same date, and both candidates reported those contributions.

Lastly, the right-wing MMAC reported to the state that its PAC contributed $500 to Woodward's campaign on Feb. 13. But once again, Woodward doesn't report it. So did Woodward return this check, too?

I’ve checked with the City Election Commission to see if Woodward had filed any amended campaign finance reports that would document Wodward’s contributions from ASA or MMAC or the return of the first Milwaukee Fund for Public Education contribution. But I was told that Woodward’s campaign had not filed any other forms.

So, the record stands that the Woodward campaign accepted $500 from George Mosher as a conduit contribution from the Milwaukee Fund for Public Education, ASA-PAC donated $600 to her campaign, and MMAC's PAC sent her campaign $500.



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