Monday, July 12, 2010

Mike Fitzpatrick, Debtor

Mike Fitzpatrick is the Republican candidate for the 8th congressional district, which he represented from 2004-2006, when he was defeated by current Congressman Patrick Murphy. Fitzpatrick has made fiscal matters a central point in his campaign. For example, this past April (4/13/10) he is quoted in the Intelligencer (Fitzpatrick wants smaller government, controlled spending, by Gary Weckselblatt) as saying:

In the days before his candidacy, he said those who knew him as a friend or acquaintance would prod him about getting back to Washington to "stop the growing mountain of debt."
"I'm not going to sit back and watch it continue," he said. "I want my children and all children of the country to inherit a nation with a balanced budget and a business climate that encourages job creators."

A 5/09 opinion piece in the Intelligencer (“Fitzpatrick wins Republican nod in race for 8th District U.S. House seat”), noted:
Fitzpatrick said the country "can't afford" the Democrats. "We're stealing from future generations," he said. "It's our moral imperative to pay off the debt not just for ourselves and our economy but also for our children and our grandchildren," he said.

The issues page of his campaign website states:

Federal spending is out of control. It is imperative that we reduce the burgeoning federal deficit and our national debt by reducing the size and scope of the federal government. Astronomical debt is not the legacy we want for future generations. It is far more responsible to stop further expansion of the role of government in our daily lives and work to reduce some of our current obligations.

So Fitzpatrick is likely to have his own financial house in order, or so we would assume. After all, someone who is running on fiscal restraint and debt reduction would surely want to set an example.

Each quarter I review campaign finance reports for congressional campaigns. There are other types of committees, though, for example leadership pacs. These are political action committees that officials, candidates, or others, might set up that allow them to raise money to support other candidates or causes. They’re all the rage these days and a number of current Pennsylvania congressional representatives have one (see partial list here).

In July, 2005, Fitzpatrick set up a leadership pac, Keystone Leadership PAC. You can review the committees financial reports at, or see a synopsis by searching or I reviewed these resources for a handful of PA leadership pacs and found something interesting about Mr. Fitzpatrick’s Keystone Leadership PAC. For one thing, in both the 2006 and 2008 campaign cycles, Keystone Leadership PAC spent less than a third of the money it raised on actual donations. ProPublica gives statistics showing that 29.5% was spent on administrative functions, 27.5% on fundraising, and 23.5% on campaign contributions. (For contrast, Murphy’s Taking the Hill PAC spent 73.9% of the money raised on campaign contributions.) Open Secrets divides the statistics by campaign cycle. In the 2008 cycle Keystone Leadership sent less than a third of the money raised on contributions; it is hard to tell what percentage was spent on contributions in the 2006 cycle.

Another puzzling item is the debt the committee carries. It was debt free until April, 2008 when, with $688.27 cash on hand, a debt of $576.94 is listed. From then until March, 2009, the debt increased on a regular basis until it reached $6,826.94 In February, 2010 it was reduced by $500 (a duplicate check was voided apparently) to $6,326.94, where it has remained up through the most recent report, for May, 2010. No new monies were raised in this time and the cash on hand is now $23.27. So without brining in any money for the past two years the committee continued to spend, and then not repay its debts. The money was spent on PAC bookkeeping (11 payments of $500 and one payment of $576.94) and on PAC software (5 payments of $150.00)

On the FEC site if you look at the images of the reports (as opposed to the electronic filings), you will note that throughout 2009 most of the reports were filed late, after prompting from the FEC. It should be noted that Mr. Fitzpatrick has had some serious health issues to contend with. However, he did not file the reports; they were all filed by committee treasurer, the gentleman who also served as Fitzpatrick’s chief of staff while he was in office.

If Mr. Fitzpatrick is presenting himself as fiscally responsible and committed to reducing debt perhaps he could start with his own leadership pac.

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