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MONDAY, JANUARY 28, 2008

Citizens for Better Government Update

As the controversy about the Citizens for Better Government continues to grow, it seems
clear that many have not gone back and listened to what Delegate Kipke said on the
Conservative Refuge Podcast and compared it to the group's recent campaign finance
statement.

While I would still urge everyone to go back and listen to the entire 20 plus minute
interview in context, below the fold I break it down a bit to show why there has been
such a firestorm of criticism on the heels of the group's recent disclosures.

I will give the time in the show and the summary of the statements made. (Again, don't
take my word for any of this listen to this interview for yourself and visit the links
provided.)

6:30 Delegate Kipke explains the group is changing from a PAC to a Slate so that the
Delegates can have "full control over how the money is spent."

7:30 Delegate Kipke acknowledges the change was based upon concerns about Lawrence
Scott but personally vouches for his character of the group's members.

8:20 Delegate Kipke repeats that the Delegates wanted to control how the money is
spent.

14:45 Delegate Kipke assures donors that they need not be worried that the money spent
by the group was going to go to Lawrence Scott or that he would benefit in anyway.

16:10 Delegate Kipke says that the group is not a money making scheme for Lawrence
Scott.

From the campaign finance report, we know that all of the money that was spent was
funnelled through Scott Strategies, Inc. in apparant contradiction to the above
statements and personal assurances by Delegate Kipke.

This is the most damning aspect of this whole story. Mr. Scott received the
money and directly controlled how it was spent. The group has refused to
make any further disclosure of expenses or will not admit or deny whether
Mr. Scott received any consulting fees.

8:05 All the organizers have "invested equally."

16:35 All of the organizers have "invested our own money."

According to the group's own finance report, no contribution from Delegate Kipke
appears and the contributions from Delegates Schuh and King come from campaign
not personal accounts. [Correction - Friends of Nic Kipke did report a donation to the
slate before the filing deadline. I apologize for the error.]

Again, despite the public statements that each of the Delegates "invested our own
money" nothing in the state's campaign finance database supports that claim. The
donations that were made were from campaign accounts, which included the
donations of others. Also, no in-kind donations appear negating any claim of that
type.

19:25 Delegate Kipke mentions (and I wholeheartedly acknowledge) his reputation for
honesty.

The above statements along with Kipke's reputation were intended and, in fact, did
quell the criticism of this group as they headed toward their fundraising dinner. The
group's only statement filed under penalties of perjury, however, appears to
contradict many of these statements.

Why is this important? Let me share with you a portion of an email from a
listener named Erran
"I listen to all of your podcasts. I think you can do an "I told you so" podcast with a
pretty clear conscience. If theses three delegates are going to become the face of the
local party, the party should demand total honesty from them. They all seem like nice
people but I can't say that I trust one of them although I trusted Kipke the most of the
bunch until this."

" Kipke seems like a stand-up guy and how he could be manipulated to lie is beyond
me. I suspect King and Schuh put him up to it. Someone in the local Republican party
should put these guys to the test. Get them to come onto your show to defend the lies
they are telling. I don't have access to the masses like you do but the only commodity
the party has given its many public struggles in Maryland is honesty. I hope you will
take up the cause to flesh this out so that these three start playing team politics."

I think that says it all.

FRIDAY, JANUARY 25, 2008

Citizens For Better Government Update

Greg Kline has a very informational podcast updating us on the activities of everyone's
favorite rogue political group, the "Citizens for Better Government" Slate. I am going to
provide some back story, and reproduce some of his podcast and links for easy
navigation.

(But make sure you listen! The podcast is much more comprehensive than can be
written here!)

The Annapolis Republican Central Committee, of which I was formerly treasurer, was
pitched in October by Doug Burkhardt to commit to a table at a fundraiser being held by
a Political Action Committee (PAC) that had recently been formed. The officers of the
PAC were Burkhardt: treasurer, and Lawrence Scott: chairman. Three republican state
delegates: Nic Kipke, Steve Schuh, and James King, were on board with informal roles,
as elected officials could not have formal roles in a PAC. At this October meeting, Mr.
Burkhardt attested to having 25 donors at $5,000 each. As Greg reports in his podcast,
this claim was repeated publicly on several occasions.

In November, Delegates King and Schuh took the show to the Wednesday Republican
Breakfast club, defending their decisions and their stake in the organization. However,
many audience members had experienced first hand negative experiences with Scott
and Burkhardt, and vehemently expressed their opposition. That sentiment was
widespread, and in response the group was changed from a PAC to a 'slate', allowing the
delegates to (reportedly) have more control of how the money is dispersed.

This brings us to today (actually last week), when the campaign finance report for the
group was released. Uh-oh. Lies, all lies! Despite claims from the group of $125,00--
even $200,000-- in donations, the total amount was only $67,322. That amount
includes $5000 apiece from Delegates King and Schuh, but nothing from Delegate
Kipke. What's worse is the disbursements. The slate disbursed only 1 check, for $15,000,
to Lawrence Scott's consulting business, covering "event location expenses and printing
materials".

Greg's podcast is provides very poignant analysis. The worst fears of republican activists
were realized: that large sums of money are being controlled by, and funneled through,
Lawrence Scott. The slate's main fundraiser, which took place two days before finance
reports were due, featured President Reagan's son Michael as the guest speaker. Yet, no
entry was made for Mr. Reagan's fee, which is probably in the $15,000-$20,000 range.
Greg predicts that next year's report will show a check for this fee, with a posting date
just after this year's reporting, so the slate wouldn't have to disclose their true cash on
hand, which Greg estimates to be in the low $30,000 range--a far cry from the bill of
goods that was sold to many people over the past months. With such financial shortfalls,
why would Delegate Kipke be exempted from ponying up his $5K? Perhaps in exchange
for his role of spokesman, and the duty of misleading the public as to the group's status.

I'm certainly glad I didn't give them any money.

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2007


Delegates Schuh, King Defend Special Session Votes &
Citizens For Government PAC

Scheduled to speak at the Wednesday Morning Republican Breakfast Club today were
Delegates Nic Kipke, Steve Schuh, and James King. Delegates Schuh and King showed
up, and they might be wishing they hadn't.

The first topic of discussion was the special session. The delegates gave a brief summary
of their perception of the session and its consequences, but then both decided to bring
up their controversial votes in anticipation of having to defend their positions.

Schuh talked about his vote in favor of the $500 million (multi-hundreds of millions,
anyway) expansion of medicaid. (I didn't know this, and now that the session is over it is
a bit harder to find out. The general session took down its special session page, and
neither myself nor The Main Adversary could figure out where to look. I think it's HB-
6.) Schuh remarked that people making $20,000 for a family of 4 need to be in the
public system, because there is no way the private market can make health insurance
cheap enough for such a family to afford.

But there was no time to debate this! The meeting was only for an hour, and there were
more pressing issues. Delegate King explained his vote on slots, elaborating that he
made his support of a slots referendum known from day 1. He claims that over 80% of
Marylanders support having a voice on the matter, and that giving them that voice was
the right thing to do, even if the difficult thing. I will quote him as accurately as I
remember:

Sometimes the legislature comes to an impasse on an issue, and can't figure out
what to do. When this happens, the public gets fed up, and demands a say
on the matter. Republicans supported a constitutional amendment 3 years
ago for defining marriage, and I think we need consistency of practices,
otherwise we are no better than them (Democrats).

The highly up-to-speed audience jumped on him immediately for this. Regardless of
one's position on slots, they argued, having such narrowly focused language in the state
constitution was inappropriate. Marriage is fundamental enough to appear in the
constitution, but gambling is not. So went the argument.
There simply was not enough time for me to ask the question about leverage, which has
been posed before. With the actual budget to come in 2 months, Republicans will be
hard pressed to exert any negotiating force since the caucus could not unify for some
major votes in the special session.

An even better dialogue surrounded the next topic, the Citizens For Better Government
PAC. Delegates King, Schuh, and Kipke have joined the PAC's efforts to raise money for
promising Republican candidates and contested Republican incumbents. While the
intentions of the delegates may be noble, the officers of the PAC are not.

The chairman of the PAC is Lawrence Scott, and the treasurer is Doug Burkhardt.
Mention these names to local Republican activists, and you will elicit the ire of a
sleeping giant being awoken. Burkhardt worked against certain Republican candidates
as a member of a central committee; Scott from most accounts is morally bankrupt; and
both have worked against other PAC's in the past.

The Citizens For Better Government PAC is not even registered as a Republican entity,
which makes the delegates' involvement all the more questionable, and risky for them.
Delegate King remained steadfast, however, stating that such was merely an oversight
and "this is obviously a Republican PAC". When asked who will make the decisions of
where the money goes, they responded "we will". So they think. With Scott as chairman
and Burkhardt as treasurer, the PAC can disperse money freely without the consent of
the delegates; the delegates indeed cannot be named officers of the PAC because it
would constitute a 'slate' and the money could only go to the slate's candidates.
Although they certainly cannot be naive to this process or to Lawrence Scott (he is an
advisor to Schuh), Schuh and King seemed surprised at the group's insistence that their
fundraising abilities are being used to establish a slush fund for a campaign consultant.

The PAC has big goals--they claim to have $15,000-$20,000 in the bank and to have
commitments for another $125,000. Delegate Schuh hopes to raise $400,000 to spend
on the next election. The concern of Republicans should be the people in charge of the
money. After all, why not use the Maryland GOP?