Following a routine audit, the Federal Election Commission has issued a “finding” against the Vermont Democratic Party, over technical violations of federal rules. The finding was distributed and explained at Saturday’s meeting of the state party committee.
The audit covered the 2009-10 election cycle. From the FEC report:
…the Audit staff determined that VDP did not maintain any monthly logs, as required, to document the percentage of time each employee spent on federal election activity. For 2009 and 2010, the Audit staff identified payments to VDP employees totaling $203,472, for which monthly payroll logs were not maintained.
… In response to the Interim Audit Report recommendation, VDP submitted a plan to pay all employees with 100 percent federal funds. Further, VDP said it would maintain monthly timesheets for all employees paid with federal/non-federal allocated funds, in order to track the percentage of time each employee spends on federal election activity.
The VDP’s plan was accepted by the FEC; no penalties were assessed.
The Republicans may try to make hay of this, but there really isn’t any scandal here. “There was no malfeasance, just inadequate bookkeeping,” said newly-installed VDP Treasurer Tim Briglin.
The VDP was not singled out for scrutiny. Each election cycle, the FEC does a number of audits of randomly-selected state party organizations. The Vermont Dems’ number happened to come up in 2009-10.
More detail on the rules violation (warning: Do Not Operate Heavy Machinery While Reading This Paragraph): Party committees must keep monthly logs of the time each employee spends on federal election activity. Those who “spend more than 25% of their time on federal election activities must be paid only from a federal account,” while those who spend no time on federal activities may be paid with funds that comply with state law. Between zero and 25 percent, “employees… must be paid either from the federal account or be allocated as administrative costs.” During the audit period, the VDP failed to keep those logs.
Since 2010, the party’s internal structure has been beefed up significantly. Compliance with campaign law is now being overseen by Selene Hofer-Shall, who has over a decade of experience with campaign finances dating back to Howard Dean’s Presidential campaign of 2003-04. On her watch, any further “inadequate bookkeeping” seems highly unlikely.