MDP Files FEC Complaint Against Brunner

Jefferson City, Mo.— The Missouri Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission today over Senate candidate John Brunner’s failure to comply with federal election laws. According to the complaint, Brunner violated FEC law by refusing to file as a candidate for months, despite clear statements that he is a candidate for Senate and spending beyond the threshold for registration.

“For months, John Brunner’s campaign has relied on his ability to hide behind professional political consultants and his extreme personal wealth to avoid any accountability. It's deeply troubling to see someone who made his fortune inheriting a multi-million-dollar cleaning products company using that money to run such an unclean campaign right out of the gate,” said Caitlin Legacki, Missouri Democratic Party spokeswoman.
 
According to news reports, Brunner is planning to announce his candidacy on Monday, October 3. By waiting until after the end of the third fiscal quarter to acknowledge his candidacy, Brunner has signaled a clear desire to avoid disclosing his campaign's expenditures until next year's January 31 report, even though he has actually been a candidate for months already. 
 
Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, an individual becomes a candidate for federal office, and triggers the Act's registration and reporting requirements, when his or her campaign exceeds $5,000 in contributions or expenditures. 
 
The rules allow an individual who genuinely has not decided to run for office to "test the waters," and to defer filing until a decision is made. But he becomes a candidate if he or she takes actions that reflect actual candidacy – for example, by making or authorizing "written or oral statements that refer to him or her as a candidate for a particular office.”
 
Since April, Brunner has been hiding from voters and his Republican primary opponents while media consultants have billed him for countless hours of media trainings. Over the past five months Brunner has traveled to Washington and New York to meet with national Republicans and prepare for his campaign, spending thousands of dollars in the process.
 
At the same time, Brunner and his highly-paid media consultants have acknowledged his candidacy in both interviews and at Republican events. 
  
BACKGROUND
 
John Brunner’s Stealth Campaign for U.S. Senate: A Timeline
 
April 2011: Brunner First Announced Interest In Senate Run. Speaking to the Associated Press in April 2011, Brunner first announced that he was considering a run for US Senate in Missouri. [AP, 4/19/2011]
    • Brunner To The AP: I’m “Very Serious” About Senate Race. Speaking to the Associated Press in April 2011, Brunner said that he was “very serious” about running for U.S. Senate, and that he would use his large personal fortune to fund the campaign. [AP, 4/19/2011]
    • The Very Next Month: Hancock Started As Brunner Campaign Spokesman. Just one month after Brunner announced his interest in running for US Senate, Republican political consultant John Hancock stepped in to start speaking on his behalf.  In May 2011, Hancock spoke to both Roll Call and the National Journal about Brunner's candidacy, highlighting his business record. [Hotline On Call, 5/12/2011; Roll Call, 5/13/2011]
    • Roll Call: Hancock "Is Serving As an Adviser to Brunner." In May 2011, Roll Call reported that Hancock "is serving as an adviser to Brunner." [Roll Call, 5/13/11]
May 2011: Brunner Campaigned In Southwest Missouri. In May 2011, Brunner spent a weekend in southwest Missouri meeting with potential donors and Republican Party leaders. [Politicmo, 5/15/2011]
    • Meanwhile, Hancock Continued to Serve As Brunner’s Surrogate, Attacked Akin. After Rep. Todd Akin announced that he was running for U.S. Senate, Brunner spokesman John Hancock "sliced" Akin for his years spent in Washington.  "Todd Akin is a politician, been in elected office for 23 years," Hancock told Politico.  "I would say that if they want an experienced politician to be a U.S. Senator, they've got plenty of choices." [Politico, 5/17/2011]
    • Politico Identified Hancock As a "Brunner Adviser." In May 2011, Politico identifiedJohn Hancock as a "Brunner adviser." [Politico, 5/17/11]
    • Roll Call Identified Hancock As a “Brunner Consultant.” In May 2011, Roll Call identifiedJohn Hancock as a “Brunner Consultant.” [Roll Call, 5/17/11] 
July 2011: Brunner Attended Greene County GOP BBQ In Springfield. In July 2011, Brunner attended the Greene County Republican Party BBQ in Springfield. [Politicmo, 7/24/11]
    • Brunner Was Introduced As A Candidate For Senate At The Event.  While attending the Target BBQ in Springfield in July 2011, Brunner was announced to the crowd as a candidate for U.S. Senate by the master of ceremonies. [Greene County Republican Party BBQ, 7/23/11]
    • Brunner Said He Was Ready To “Jump Right In” To Senate Race. Speaking to Politicmo at the Greene County Republican Party BBQ in July 2011, Brunner said that he was ready to“jump right in” to the US Senate race. [Politicmo, 7/24/11]
    • When Brunner Was Asked When He Would Announce, Hancock Stepped In To Answer. During his interview with Politicmo, Brunner was asked when he would announce his decision about a campaign for the US Senate.  Brunner spokesman John Hancock quickly cut in and answered for Brunner. "Soon,” said Hancock. [Politicmo, 7/24/2011]
August 2011: Sources In The Brunner Campaign Said Senate Announcement “Imminent.” In August 2011, The Hill quoted a source close to Brunner saying that Brunner’s announcement for the US Senate was “imminent”. [The Hill, 8/10/11]
    • Post-Dispatch Reports: Brunner Will Make A Large Donation To His Campaign. In August 2011, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Brunner would likely make a sizable donation to his campaign. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/15/11]
    • Brunner Traveled to Washington, DC to Discuss Candidacy with National Republicans. In early 2011, Brunner met with Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) in Washington, DC to discuss Brunner's candidacy for U.S. Senate.  Brunner told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he and Johnson had a "wonderful" conversation, and that Johnson encouraged him to run. [St.Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/15/11]
August 2011: Brunner Participated in Three Separate GOP Events. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch: “Although Brunner has not formally declared himself a candidate, he is acting the part. He's attempted to make inroads with GOP officials — hosting a mixer for Republican state representatives, sponsoring a fundraiser for Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder —— and worked the crowds at events such as the "Sucker Day" celebration in Nixa, Mo.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/15/11]
    • Brunner Hosted A Mixer For Republican State Representatives. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Brunner hosted a mixer for Republican state representatives. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/15/11
    • Brunner Sponsored A Fundraiser For Lt. Governor Kinder. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Brunner sponsored a fundraiser for Lt. Governor Peter Kinder. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/15/11]
    • Brunner Worked The Crowd At The “Sucker Day” Celebration in Nixa. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Brunner “worked the crowds” at the “Sucker Day” celebration in Nixa. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/15/11]
    • Jake Wagman: Brunner Is Acting Like A Candidate. From Jake Wagman’s article in the Post-Dispatch: “Although Brunner has not formally declared himself a candidate, he is acting the part.” [St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 8/15/11]
September 2011: Brunner Campaign Spokesman John Hancock Gives Statement of Candidacy. When asked by the Kansas City Star if Brunner was definitely running, Brunner spokesman John Hancock said “I wouldn’t be talking to you if he wasn’t.” Hancock also said Brunner would be announcing his intention to run for the US Senate “soon.” [Kansas City Star, 9/2/11]
    • Kansas City Star Identified Hancock As a "Brunner Spokesman." In September 2011, Steve Kraske of the Kansas City Star identified Hancock and "Brunner spokesman John Hancock." [Kansas City Star, 9/2/11
Missouri Campaign Disbursements To John Hancock In The 2010 Election Cycle 
 
Roy Blunt for Senate Paid John Hancock and Associates Almost $40,000 in 2009. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Roy Blunt for Senate paid John Hancock and Associates $39,328 in 2009.  Roy Blunt for Senate made twelve separate payments to John Hancock and Associates during that year for general media consulting and research. [Center for Responsive Politics, Accessed 9/28/11]
    • John Hancock and Associates Charged Roy Blunt for Senate an Average of $3,277 Per Month in 2009. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Roy Blunt for Senate paid John Hancock and Associates $39,328 in 2009, an average of $3,277 per month. [Center for Responsive Politics, Accessed 9/28/11] 
At Least 37 Disbursements to John Hancock and Associates in 2009/2010, Totaling More Than $118k. According to Missouri campaign finance records, there were at least 35 disbursements made to John Hancock and Associates in the 2010 election cycle.  The total value of those disbursements was $118,817.61. [Missouri Ethics Commission, Accessed 9/28/11]
    • The Committee to Elect Bruce Ehlmann Paid John Hancock and Associates Over $61,000 in 2009/2010. According to Missouri campaign finance records, the Committee to Elect Bruce Ehlmann paid John Hancock and Associates at least $61,158.99 in the 2010 election cycle.  The Committee to Elect Bruce Ehlmann made at least 23 separatepayments to John Hancock and Associates in 2009/2010 - nearly one per month - for consulting and other services. [Missouri Ethics Commission, Accessed 9/28/11]
    • Hulshof for Governor Paid John Hancock and Associates Over $12,000 in 2009. According to Missouri campaign finance records, Hulshof for Governor Inc paid John Hancock and Associates $12,225 in 2009.  Hulshof for Governor Inc made two separate payments in John Hancock and Associates in 2009, both for professional services. [Missouri Ethics Commission, Accessed 9/28/11]
    • The Cunningham Campaign Committee Paid John Hancock and Associates Over $14,000 in One Month in 2010. According to Missouri campaign finance records, the Cunningham Campaign Committee paid John Hancock and Associates $14,160.74 in October of 2010.  The Cunningham Campaign Committee made three separate payments to John Hancock and Associates that month for fundraising, event planning and dinner expenses. [Missouri Ethics Commission, Accessed 9/28/11]
    • Schaaf for Senate Paid John Hancock and Associates Almost $14,000 in Two Months in 2010. According toMissouri campaign finance records, Schaaf for Senate paid John Hancock and Associates $13,947.47 in October and November of 2010.  Schaaf for Senate made three payments to John Hancock and Associates in those months for fundraising and printing. [Missouri Ethics Commission, Accessed 9/28/11]
    • Missourians for Health Care Freedom Paid John Hancock and Associates Over $14,000 in Two Months in 2010. According to Missouri campaign finance records, Missourians for Health Care Freedom paid John Hancock and Associates $14,538.26 in July and August of 2010.  Missourians for Health Care Freedom made three payments to John Hancock and Associates in those months for fundraising. [Missouri Ethics Commission, Accessed 9/28/11]
    • The Committee to Elect Ron Richard Paid John Hancock and Associates $1,000 for Speech Writing in April 2009. According to Missouri campaign finance records, the Committee to Elect Ron Richard paid John Hancock and Associates $1,000 for speech writing in April 2009. [Missouri Ethics Commission, Accessed 9/28/11]

 

 

 

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