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Jordan staffer left over campaign’s ties to tribal PAC

September 20, 2018

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan’s campaign has been fundraising for a new federal political action committee known as a “super PAC” since May, prompting the resignation of a top campaign staffer.

The Idaho Statesman reports former campaign manager Michael Rosenow was frustrated because he said the campaign wasn’t focused on raising money to win the race and instead focused on raising money for a federal PAC that is barred from using those funds in coordination with Jordan’s campaign.

Federal super PACs can raise unlimited amounts of money, but it can only be spent on independent expenditures. Those expenditures can’t be made in coordination with a campaign or they are no longer considered independent.

The Strength and Progress PAC was created in July “to accept donations from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe ... for spending on Federal First Nations’ issues,” according to a statement from the PAC. Jordan is a member and was formerly one of the leaders of the Tribe.

The Statesman obtained and verified documents and emails about the campaign’s involvement in the PAC and Rosenow’s resignation.

“I will have no part or complacency with this PAC,” Rosenow wrote in his Sept. 14 resignation letter.

The letter says there are several reasons why he is leaving, but, “The biggest reason is the lack of accountability in spending and acquiring campaign resources.”

Rosenow wrote that he was frustrated the campaign was focused on “growing a PAC” rather than funding the campaign.

“I find this to be detestable, loathsome if not repulsive to try and keep funds from going into a candidate’s campaign or IE (Idaho Voices for Change Now) that can actually fulfill what donors, volunteers and staff are trying to accomplish. Winning an election,” he wrote.

Two other campaign staffers, communications director Lisa Newcomb and event scheduler Leah Nemeroff, resigned the same day as Rosenow. All three told the newspaper they had signed nondisclosure agreements when they joined the campaign and so could not discuss why they resigned roughly two months before election day.

The campaign issued a news release the day after the staff exodus stating the departures were part of a leadership transition to a more Idaho-focused team.

So far the federal PAC hasn’t spent any money. Once it does, PAC officials will have to file a report with the Federal Election Commission disclosing the amount spent, the recipient and the purpose of the expenditure.

Hurst, at the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office, said it comes down to what the super PAC does with the Tribe’s money.

“Assuming this ends up in an expenditure, it is possible that this would be considered a ‘coordinated’ communication,” Hurst said of the involvement of Jordan and her campaign.

“Based on the facts known thus far, we would likely have to take a close look at it if an expenditure is made,” said Idaho Secretary of State Chief Deputy Tim Hurst.

Jordan’s attorney and senior campaign adviser Nate Kelly says neither he, Jordan nor the campaign have done anything improper or illegal in communicating with the Tribe about creating and funding the PAC.

Kelly said the Tribe approached him about supporting Jordan’s campaign and also about whether Jordan could specifically support First Nations’ issues.

Kelly said he advised the Tribe that Jordan’s campaign can’t accept or direct earmarked contributions to committees supporting her campaign. He recommended they set up a federal PAC focused on First Nations and said they could separately make independent expenditures or general contributions to committees supporting Jordan’s election.

Kelly later communicated with the Tribe about its donations to the PAC.

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Information from: Idaho Statesman, http://www.idahostatesman.com

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