Friday, October 6

Was Gov. Bob Ehrlich paying his donors?

John Wagner at the Washington Post is reporting in this Saturday's newspaper:

Maryland election officials have referred to a state prosecutor a complaint about a fundraising solicitation from Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. that included real dollar bills, saying the matter warrants further investigation into whether he violated election laws.

The fundraising strategy helps gain the attention to get the letter opened and while you may expect a certain percentage of those dollar bills will be returned with additional donations. The Ehrlich campaign used a direct mail technique which involves mailing a real $1 enclosed in the fundraising letters and asking for a return gift of $25. Other groups like PETA (For an excellent review of PETA's nickle control pack and the whistle that beat it, go here.) have tried these techniques as successful fundraising acquition packages.

The Washington Post goes on to report:
Elections officials said the tactic raises two potential problems. In Maryland, it is illegal to give people money to garner their vote. And the law requires campaign expenditures to be made by check. Under the law, the dollar bills could be construed as cash expenditures.
"We're not going to comment on the fact that Bob Ehrlich's floundering campaign is now under criminal investigation," said Rick Abbruzzese, a spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley, Ehrlich's Democratic challenger.
Whould it have been any better if he had used PETA's nickle letters instead of a dollar? Would it have been okay if it was a check? Do you think the fundraiser who suggested the idea actually knew whether it could have been illegal?

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