OH-05: Latta (R) Considering Complaining to FEC Over Alleged Buehrer (R)-Club for Growth Coordination UPDATED
In the latest chapter of the exceedingly ugly saga that is the GOP primary in the 5th Congressional District, the Toledo Blade reports that State Rep. Bob Latta (R-Bowling Green) intends to request a Federal Election Commission investigation of State Sen. Steve Bueher (R-Delta) and Buehrer's principal PAC supporter, the Club for Growth.
At issue is the Buehrer campaign arranging for a Buehrer volunteer from the Bowling Green State University College Republicans to forward tax records from Mr. Latta’s tenure as Wood County commissioner to a consultant for CFG. (The volunteer was never paid by CFG for his work, as had been promised. He has now switched allegiance to Latta.) The Latta camp contends that it constitutes illegal coordination between the candidate and the PAC. Buehrer's campaign managers says it is legal because the volunteer and PAC were put in touch the day before the PAC's endorsement was announced, not after. Latta's attorney Scott Pullins contends that the decision to endorse could have been made in advance of the annoucement, and therefore before the coordination. An expert on federal election law comments in the story that coordination claims are difficult to prove.
What's easy to see is the depths of negativity to which the campaigning has sunk:
“Now when I help out, I need to watch out in case there’s anything weird going on,” said Mr. Hooser [the volunteer], 19 ...
By selectively dissecting each other’s records, Mr. Buehrer and Mr. Latta are battling over who is more committed to lowering taxes, limiting government, and upholding conservative values. An FEC inquiry might cause the battle to spill past the Nov. 6 primary election. ...
What remains straightforward is the influential advantage the Club for Growth bestowed on Mr. Buehrer after screening both candidates. It has spent $266,024 on his behalf, mainly on ads attacking Mr. Latta for a 2003 state budget vote that temporarily increased the state sales tax. ...
“I’ve seen politicians use College Republicans to do their dirty work because these kids are enthusiastic,” said Mr. Lipian [Chairman of the College Republicans], a senior majoring in physics. “I think it’s deplorable.”
I had an interesting conversation last night with a person attending a meeting of the Wood County Democrats, who is convinced that Buehrer will win next Tuesday's primary. "Buehrer is more like Del Latta [the former Congressman] than his son [Bob Latta]," he said. Bob Latta is conservative but pragmatic, he explained, while his father is an extreme hard-liner who famously contended that Nixon was framed. "Buehrer is pure evil, a real fire-breather," he added. "It's like Bob Latta is running against his Dad."
UPDATE: Latta's attorney Scott Pullins has written to media outlets demanding that they retain records that may be discoverable in litigation over the illegal coordination claim. Also, the Latta campaign will hold a press conference at 3:30 p.m. today at the Wood County Courthouse Atrium in Bowling Green to make "an important announcement regarding an FEC complaint that will be filed against the Buehrer Campaign and the Club for Growth for alleged illegal behavior."