Too Much, Too Little

Posted May 4, 2004 at 6:27pm

A Federal Election Commission audit of Sen. Tim Johnson’s (D-S.D.) 2002 campaign found that his committee misstated its financial activity in 2001. [IMGCAP(1)]

The Johnson campaign was discovered to have understated its cash-on-hand total by $11,171 at the beginning of 2001 and it overstated its cash on hand by $69,524 at the end of 2001. The campaign also overstated its receipts by $11,171 for that year and understated its disbursements by $58,362.

The FEC audit report stated that it was “unable to determine the cause” of the understatement of cash on hand or the overstatement of receipts.

The understatement of disbursements, according to the audit staff investigators, resulted primarily from the failure of the campaign to report more than $58,000 in disbursements — 53 percent of the amount was in the fourth quarter of 2001. As a result, the campaign amended its reports to correct the misstated totals.

Wait a Minute, Mr. Postman. A group of 10 House lawmakers renewed calls last week to halt new mail screening procedures, calling the process “unacceptable.”

In an April 29 letter to House Sergeant-at-Arms Bill Livingood and Chief Administrative Officer Jay Eagen, the lawmakers, led by Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Ron Paul (R-Texas), cite Supreme Court rulings that have protected mail under the Fourth Amendment’s search and seizure provisions.

“[A]ny inspection process that fully separates the seal of an incoming letter is unacceptable,” states the letter, also signed by Reps. William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), Sam Farr (D-Calif.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), José Serrano (D-N.Y.) and Diane Watson (D-Calif.).

The new screening procedures, implemented in both chambers after the discovery of ricin in Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s (R-Tenn.) personal office in February, require mail to be opened at an off-site facility, removed from its envelope, inspected and then resealed for delivery.

The lawmakers are requesting evidence of “less invasive” screening methods considered by House officials and asking Eagen and Livingood to halt the current procedures until the Members have reviewed that information.

“We call upon your offices and Pitney Bowes, the private company contracted to inspect mail, to live up to this high standard of citizen privacy protection as well, or be able to provide the legal or statutory basis for which this practice has gone forward,” the letter states. Kucinich and Paul submitted a similar request in mid-February.

Zogby Talk. Pollster John Zogby will lead a Members-only briefing on international relations-related matters today in Room 2366 of the Rayburn House Office Building.

— Amy Keller and Jennifer Yachnin