There will be times this year when Democrats and Republicans are accused of taking money from the wrong people or being influenced by the wrong lobbyist or just carrying on a 'culture of corruption.' We have seen this already with the ethical woes of Rep. Charles Rangel and the affect it has on fellow Democrats.
But there are also times when campaigns will go too far, alleging something that isn't there. And that's not an opinion-based view. The facts back it up.
On Wednesday, Richard Hanna's campaign sent a press release with the subject line reading, "Arcuri contributor indicted." As a journalist, that will surely catch your eye. And it did.
The press release targeted Rep. Michael Arcuri for allegedly receiving over $17,000 from Paul Magliocchetti, who was recently http://www.cnn.com/2010/CRIME/08/05/us.lobbyist.arrested/" target= "_blank">indicted for making illegal campaign contributions.
Such a tie would be very bad for Arcuri, as Magliocchetti's reach extends to several Democrats. But it's the Hanna's campaign charge that Arcuri accepted contributions from Magliocchetti that doesn't pass the smell test.
This is the portion of the press release pertaining to Magliocchetti and his lobbying firm, PMA Group.
Arcuri must return $17,500 in tainted PMA cash
Contributor indicted for laundering illegal contributions
Michael Arcuri has accepted more than $17,000 from a man indicted last week for laundering illegal contributions to members of Congress.
Paul Magliocchetti, founder of the now-defunct PMA Group lobbying firm, donated $17,500 to Arcuri since 2006. The PMA Group specialized in procuring spending earmarks for its clients, and went out of business in 2009 one month after being raided by federal agents.
Magliocchetti was charged with making hundreds of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions, and also was charged with causing a political committee to make false disclosure statements to the Federal Election Commission, according to an 11-count grand jury indictment.
"Mr. Arcuri should return the $17,500 in tainted funds immediately, but he probably won't," Hanna campaign spokeswoman Renee Gamela said. "It seems Mr. Arcuri has a history of doing business with people who get raided by the FBI."
One problem: Magliocchetti and PMA Group never gave any money to Arcuri.
A http://www.opensecrets.org/news/Magliocchetticontribs1.xls" target="_blank">spreadsheet from the Center for Responsive Politics and the http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2010/08/indicted-pma-group-boss-paul-maglio.html" target="_blank">analysis by the organization found Arcuri received $0 from Magliocchetti and PMA Group. I further researched this, utilizing the search on the Center's OpenSecrets website to find specific contributions from Magliocchetti and those employed by PMA Group and the result was the same: Nothing.
(Here are contributions made by anyone with the last name http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/search.php?name=Magliocchetti&state=&zip=&employ=&cand=&all=Y&sort=N&capcode=4w56q&submit=Submit" target="_blank">Magliocchetti and http://www.opensecrets.org/indivs/search.php?name=&state=&zip=&employ=PMA+Group&cand=&all=Y&sort=N&capcode=6mf22&submit=Submit" target="_blank">PMA Group's contributions.)
When I first found this Wednesday afternoon, I asked Hanna's press secretary Renee Gamela if she had an idea where I could find this $17,500 figure since nothing in the OpenSecrets vault (which is all data compiled from the Federal Elections Commission) was linking Arcuri and Magliocchetti or Magliocchetti's PMA Group.
Gamela referred me to the Washington Examiner and provided the http://www.opensecrets.org/news/PMA_and_Clients_to_111th.xls" target="_blank">spreadsheet the Examiner links to in http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/blogs/beltway-confidential/pma-lobbying-group-founder-indicted--which-members-of-congress-will-suffer-100059059.html" target="_blank">their article. The spreadsheet, again credited to the Center for Responsive Politics, includes all the contributions made by PMA Group employees and clients of the firm. Arcuri is on that list for $17,500, just as Gamela said. But all of that money came from clients of the firm, most of them companies and even colleges and universities who hired PMA Group as their lobbyist or one of their lobbyists.
In other words: Clients of the firm are being dragged into this mess, even though some of them say they didn't base their relationship on PMA Group in their contributions to Arcuri. Their contributions came from direct relationships with the congressman.
Bryon Ackerman of the Utica Observer-Dispatch http://www.uticaod.com/topstories/x297208532/ELECTION-WATCH-Did-indicted-lobbyist-give-funds-to-Arcuri-Well-no" target="_blank">quoted several companies and their spokesmen who said their contributions to Arcuri had nothing to do with Magliocchetti or PMA Group. One company went further, saying Arcuri's post on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is why they gave money to him.
Arcuri's campaign was upset about this line of attack, as campaign manager Carolyn Ehrlich accused Hanna of spreading lies.
"Richard Hanna has stooped to a new low," Ehrlich said. "We know that Richard Hanna has no ideas for how to make things better in Upstate New York and we expect him to regularly stretch the truth, but to start outright lying in an attempt to mislead the public and the media is shocking."
The facts, in this case, are clear. There is no question Magliocchetti has given money to many other Democratic candidates and his firm, PMA Group, is also listed as a major Democratic contributor. His money and money from the firm's employees also went to the House and Senate Democratic and Republican campaign committees.
But it is false to say that Magliocchetti gave Arcuri money when he didn't and that's what Hanna's campaign did. Twice in the press release it reads Magliocchetti and/or his firm contributed to Arcuri's campaign and it's not true. The information available and research shows that's not the case.