Cindy Siegel, Treasurer of the Harris County Republican Party, took exception to a post that I wrote outlining the finances of the HCRP and explaining why I’m voting for Paul Simpson as Chair of the party. As is our policy at BJP, we encourage people with differing views to air them and we are not afraid to publish complaints aimed at us. So we published her criticism. I think it is important that I respond to her criticism.
I hate to write in the style of the late 90’s / early 2000’s where we would quote snippets and then respond to them but that is the best way to address her criticism so bear with me on that.
But, while attempting to compare similar time periods, the author did not reflect all of the contributions for the period from 7/1/2014 to 2/15/2016. Therefore, donations are substantially understated by over $948,000.
First, the last Form CEC filed by the HCRP with the TEC was 1/15/2016 for the period ending 12/31/2015. Therefore, the author did not include 1) any of the corporate donations reported on Form PTY-Corp reports filed between 7/1/2014 and 1/15/2016; 2) any of the donations that were reported on the monthly FEC reports between 7/1/2015 and 2/15/2016; and 3) any of donations received by the Party for the period 1/1 to 2/15/16 (federal, state or corporate donations).
Actually, I made it very clear that my focus was on the county operations that are reported to the Texas Ethics Commission by the HCRP’s County Executive Committee account # 00025207. This is what I said:
I always focus on the state campaign finance reports but to be fair there is a portion of the HCRP activities that are considered Federal. For those same 19 months, the HCRP reported $1,256,899 in contributions and $1,285,195 in expenditures, a net loss of $(28,296). If you want to view the reports, here is the information you need:
State – Texas Ethics Commission, Filer ID 00025207 (main) and Filer ID 00023764.
Federal – FEC Campaign Finance, Committee ID C00326835
So not only did I not understate the contributions, apparently she is saying that I overstated them by $300,000. Note that I also listed all three HCRP reporting accounts and encouraged readers to view them directly.
I further caution against just adding all of the expenditures reported on the FEC reports to the filed Forms CEC because the FEC expenses are reported at 100% and are not adjusted for the amounts paid for with state and corporate funds. You would overstate expenses, if you just add the total expenses from all TEC reports (Forms CEC and PTY-Corp) and FEC reports.
Additionally, the author doubled (and overstated) certain expenses that are required to be reported twice on the Form CEC. When there is a like-kind expense reported to a candidate and on Form CEC, it is also reported again showing the vendor the expense was paid, too.
I think this is the same argument as above so I will say again that I clearly told readers that I was focused on the CEC account and did not aggregate all accounts together. If you open the spreadsheet that I provided for readers, you will not find duplicate or overstated expenditures. I encourage you to look for yourself.
The Party’s accounting books and records provide the total picture of Chairman Simpson’s first 19 months of office in comparison to the previous 19 months of office because they take into account all donations to and expenses paid from Federal, State, Levin and Corporate funds.
In reviewing the Party’s Quickbooks (the accounting program used since approximately 1998) donations raised between June 16, 2012 through February 15, 2014 (Former Chairman Woodfill’s final 19 months) equaled $1,337,517 in comparison to the $3,003,430 that Chairman Simpson has raised his first 19 months of office (June 16, 2014 to February 15, 2015)
It is interesting that she uses different time periods than I did but criticizes me nonetheless. I think apples to apples would be more appropriate. Even more interesting is that she says that former Chair Woodfill’s term ended February 15, 2014. That is very odd because the primary in which Simpson defeated Woodfill wasn’t held until March 4, 2014. Essentially she is saying that the HCRP had no chair between February 15, 2014 and June 16, 2014. That is obviously not accurate and I have no clue as to why she would do that. As for which person raised the most money, I made it clear that Simpson raised a boatload more than Woodfill did.
Further analysis shows both chairmen spent approximately 75% of revenues on political efforts – ie, outreach, GOTV, campaign advertising, staff time assigned strictly to political efforts (as compared to overhead or fundraising), precinct and other political training, database development, etc.). This means that Chairman Simpson spent $1.25 million more in his first 19 months of office to help get Republican candidates elected and motivate voters to vote Republican than the former chairman did in his last 19 months of office.
Yes, Simpson has raised far more money than Woodfill. I made that clear. But notice what Siegel does here. She focuses only on the contributions. She neglects to mention the HUGE increase in spending. It is awesome to raise a lot of money and spend it to promote Republicans. But shouldn’t we also look at the amount of money SPENT to push that message? I think it is telling that Siegel chose to ignore that side of the T account. As for her statement that each chair spent 75% of revenues on political efforts, I don’t know because I didn’t write about that or attempt to calculate it. It might be true or it might not. I simply don’t know.
The author also makes an overall assessment that there has been a “huge increase in fundraising expenses with little positive net to negative results;” a comparison of the 2015 Lincoln Reagan Dinner to the 2014 Lincoln Reagan Dinner shows a different picture:
2015 2014 LRD Gross Revenues $482,326 $174,986 LRD Expenses $149,624 $ 60,811 Net LRD Profit $332,702 $114,175
Given that last year’s LRD netted $218,527 more than the year before and total donations raised since July 1, 2014 have increased 2.25 times, I don’t see any support for your statement that fundraising efforts have had “little positive net to negative results.”
Actually the author said nothing of the sort. She is responding to a quote from Gary Polland that I included in the post. And let’s take a look at his quote:
- Overall assessment – Huge increase in fundraising expenses with little positive net to negative results.
Notice that Polland said “overall”. Siegel limits her argument to one specific function, the Lincoln Reagan Dinner, then broadens that to “total donations”. I’ll let her and Polland argue about that but I will point out that once again, she leaves out the expense side. Why?
As for the claims regarding the auditing procedures. An independent, third-party audit had not been performed in twenty years, though the Party bylaws had required the Chairman to do so. (It is my understanding that the Accounting Review Committee was in fact formed in 2012 when that outside audit requirement was eliminated to at least provide some limited review of the accounting books and records by the Executive Committee.) Additionally, before 2014, the HCRP had not been filing the appropriate FEC reports, but since 2014 HCRP has engaged outside attorneys with FEC experience to ensure filings are done timely and properly.
Since July 2014 – accounting policies and procedures have been developed, a Conflict of Interest policy has been prepared and Conflicts Disclosure Statements signed by officers and the management team. Lastly the first audit in many years was performed this past fall for the period of July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015 and a “clean” opinion issued.
I have no idea what she is talking about. The word “audit” is not in my post about the party’s finances. I didn’t mention anything whatsoever about an audit. You’ll have to ask her why she chose to criticize me for something that I didn’t say.
One thing that Siegel wrote in the “audit” paragraph above really bothers me. Since the day Simpson and his team took office, there has been a whisper campaign about supposed irregularities in the Woodfill administration. She contributes to this campaign of slander in her post. Notice how she does it.
- No audit had been done prior to our administration.
- Committee formed to provide at least some limited review.
- Prior to our administration, appropriate FEC reports were not filed.
- Our administration developed Conflict of Interest policy.
- Our administration had an audit performed and a “clean” opinion was issued.
That’s a slick way to assassinate the character not only of Woodfill but also the many people that volunteered at the HCRP during his tenure. And yet, there is not a single piece of evidence offered to prove that any malfeasance was present. Not a single ethics violation was issued to the HCRP under Woodfill.
Folks, that’s just a smear campaign and I don’t like it.
Now, back to Siegel’s criticism of me. I hope that you take the time to read the above as well as reading the original post. If you do, you’ll understand that her criticism is completely and wholly without merit.
I always like to see what people omit when they choose to selectively criticize something that I write. For instance, look at what Siegel didn’t address.
- My point about the high overhead the HCRP has making it too big to fail.
- My point about moving from a grassroots group to a business focused group with no message.
- My point about the huge leap in average and median contribution amounts.
- My point that Simpson took credit for the Campaign for Houston when in fact he did nothing.
- My point about the links between the HCRP, the HRBC, and Simpson’s campaign account.
And most interesting of all? From the original post quoting Polland:
- At the 2015 Executive Committee, current HCRP treasurer Cindy Siegel reported that the party was short of having the money to pay monthly expenses;
Siegel was silent.
Sometimes it isn’t what you say, it’s what you don’t.
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