Saturday, February 9, 2008

I Have a Question.

I'm not being sarcastic. I really do have a question.

I was looking at the campaign contributions that ran as a separate column in this article about Chuck Rosenthal, and I was confused.

Now, I'm not a math enthusiast by any stretch of the imagination, but I added up the information provided about Kelly's finances:

$50,000.00 - loan from Sam Siegler
$34,575.00 - in contributions
- $23,686.00 - in expenses
$60,889.00 - remaining (the Chronicle listed 60,888, but maybe they aren't good at math either).

That all adds up.

But looking at Pat Lykos' stats, I'm confused. Please understand me, I am NOT trying to stir up anything or accuse anybody of anything. I'm just confused and would like for somebody to explain something to me.

$25,000.00 - donation from the Robert Eckels Committee (more on that in a minute).
$49,225.00 - in contributions.
$16,916.00 - in expenses
$57,309.00 remaining.

Now, here's where I'm confused. The Chronicle lists her as having $39,420 remaining.

I mean, I'm bad at math, but am I that bad at math?

So, I went back and thought maybe the $25 grand from the Eckels committee was factored in as part of the contributions. That got me a little bit closer, but now I was under what she had listed as a remainder. I came up with $32,309.00

What am I missing here?

And while I'm on the topic, what does it mean that she received a $25,000 donation from the "Robert Eckels Committee"?

Does that mean she got it from a group of people who wanted to give her money, led by Robert Eckels?

Or does it mean that a group of people donated money to Robert Eckels' campaign, and he turned around and gave it to Lykos?

If it is the former and not the latter, obviously there's nothing wrong with that.

But if it's the latter, what are the rules on that? I'm sure it's legal, but it seems that would rather suck on principle. If I were to work hard and donate my money to Robert Eckels for his campaign and he turned around and gave it to Pat Lykos, I'd be pretty pissed.

Especially if I was somebody who didn't support Lykos.

Surely I'm missing something here.

(NOTE: I'm really being sincere in trying to make it clear that I'm not making any type of allegations here. I literally have no idea how election law works. I would just like to know. If somebody can explain it to me [like Alan Bernstein, for example], I'll print a post explaining it.)


Ron in Houston said...

There is something weird in campaign math. I ran a spreadsheet on a couple of candidates for Congress.

If you added the total of all the listed itemized contributions it doesn't add up to the amounts listed in the report.

I'm not saying they're cooking the books, but it sure didn't add up.

I'm with you, I'd love an explanation of campaign accounting.

anonymous c said...

I'm definitely no math genius or campaign financing expert myself.

However, it looks to me that the Chronicle is very obviously fudging the numbers to bring out the sympathy donations for Lykos. It is totally in synch with their blatantly slanted style and would not surprise me in the LEAST!

But, again, no expert.

The Phantom Bureaucrat said...

In this particular case, I don't think the Chronicle is playing fast & loose with the numbers. One of the tenants of campaign finance reform is the idea that it is so complicated that few understand how it all works. I'm not an expert but the numbers rarely "add up" since they are coming from different time lines and for different reasons (some things are excluded for example).

I'd like a closer look by the fourth estate but given the nature of how complicated it can be, I'm not holding my breath for a better look any time soon though. They have deadlines that frequently (always) get in the way of accuracy and thoroughness so the quick version is that people often must rely on the expertise of the opponents to find out any seriously distorted numbers. :(

A Harris County Lawyer said...

Let's assume for the sake of the argument that the tallying up of everything was just a normal-SNAFU in the course of running a campaign.

What about the Eckel's donation question? I'm finding Bernstein's silence on this to be a bit ominous.

JAGJO said...

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Just a guess, but probably the discrepancy comes from income and expenditures not always tidily fitting into quarterly reporting.

It used to be you had to look at all of the income and expense reports from the beginning of time to actually get a cash on hand total, which for an incumbent could be a daunting task. Now they require a separate "cash on hand" figure reported. Don't know if that answers it or not.

JAGJO said...

Grits explanation makes a lot of valid points. Some reports will appear "off" but you are only seeing that particular filing period and not the entire " running tab" so to speak. If anyone wants a more complete take on campaign financing in Texas, they can visit the Texas Ethics site and search by candidate. I gave the link earlier but blogmistress rejected the post :/ . Are we not suppose to post links? I didn't know that. Apologies! ~JAGJO