A new campaign finance complaint filed on Friday is threatening to blow up Democrats’ entire election model. The Democrats’ data hub, Catalist and an affiliated organization NGP VAN, have the honor of being the recipient of the first campaign finance complaint filed by a new conservative watch dog group, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT). According to the Washington Free Beacon, Friday’s legal filing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) outlined the following:
“Democrat data giant Catalist is providing below-market services for its ideological and partisan allies and providing a forum for those allies—which include political and policy groups that are legally required to operate independently—to coordinate their electoral and advocacy efforts.”
The crux of the complaint is two-fold. First, Catalist provided a forum for “political and policy groups that are legally required to operate independently…to coordinate their electoral and advocacy efforts” per the Washington Free Beacon. Second, that Catalist and NGP VAN are providing below-market rates for services and that the recipients of this “goodwill” did not disclose these lower rates as “in-kind contributions” as required.
In addition to Catalist and NGP VAN, the complaint names nearly all of Colorado’s federal Democratic candidates from 2014 as respondents, including Udall for Colorado (U.S. Senate), Abel Tapia (CD3), U.S. Rep. Diana Degette (CD1), U.S. Jared Polis (CD2), Irv Halter (CD5), U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CD7), and Andrew Romanoff (CD6). The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (see 2014 leadership: Sen. Michael Bennet) and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee were also named.
If the name Catalist sounds vaguely familiar, it should. Catalist was a cornerstone of the suite of capabilities offered by the Colorado Democracy Alliance (CoDA), which then grew into the Democracy Alliance, as outlined in Rob Witwer and Adam Schrager’s The Blueprint. That’s why this campaign finance complaint is so meaningful. It’s also why the Jared Polis campaign’s inclusion in this complaint is delightful. If you recall, Polis was one of the four original funders of CoDA, along with Pat Stryker, Rutt Bridges, and Tim Gill.
Could this be the end of the era of Democrats flouting campaign finance rules? Who knows? But damn it feels good that someone is finally holding them accountable.