by Max Brantley
You may recall that blogger Michael Cook dug up the fact that a party to raise corporate cash — soft money — featured U.S. Rep. Steve Womack as host. Corporations also were listed as hosts. Use of a member of congress to raise corporate soft money is prohibited by the Federal Election Commission. Womack himself immediately said that if rules were violated, the money should be returned. Burris, and other Republicans, responded initially that the problem was one of semantics. They said that if the invitations had been worded differently — by calling Womack something other than a host — everything would have been legit.
If wishes and buts were candy and nuts, we'd all have a merry Christmas.
There the matter went silent. I'd been trying to get responses from promoters of the party — Burris, Lt. Gov. Mark Darr and Teresa Oelke, who is paid by the Koch billionaires' front group, Americans for Prosperity. Silence. So I went to Twittering this morning. Every time a Republican touted opinions of shortcomings in the Obama health care reform law, I asked what they thought about a clear-cut violation of campaign finance law.
Burris, who is prone to fits of reasonableness, finally responded. He said my complaints were "old news" because the party was in the process of returning contributions. That was news to me. He said by e-mail:
"We are returning the corporate contributions from the event. Darr and Womack were all involved the discussion."
He said all corporate contributions would be returned, not just to those who "desired" refunds, an option that had been suggested originally. He said there'd undoubtedly be future occasions to seek similar support from the same sources in the future.
Cook said $25,000 to $30,000 was raised. Presumably, a report will be filed in time on receipts and disbursements, including refunds.