Friday, October 26, 2007

What will we see in finance reports?

If I remember correctly, another wave of campaign finance reports will be due next week, on or near Halloween. Should we expect more tricks or more treats in them?

One thing we can predict with certainty because the regular media has written about it many times: That Utahns for Public Schools will likely have collected some more money from NEA and probably some of its state chapters. I saw an item in the Trib (I think) last week saying that Arizona teachers were contributing to them, too. So that's a given.

What we can't predict with certainty is how much more funding Parents for Choice in Education has collected, and from where.

Will they have collected more cash from a secret source in Missouri, as we learned would happen here ( Will they report any contributions from Rex Sinquefield himself, or from his Show Me Institute, as I suggested here (

Or will PCE report a substantial contribution from hidden sources, like the $358,000 it showed in its last report from its "PCE Foundation" and its corporation, "PCE Incorporated," as we learned here ( That way, the real donors are kept secret. Isn't it strange that if I donate $100,000 to PCE's political action committee, my name is reported and becomes public information. But if I donate $100,000 -- or even a million dollars -- to PCE's "foundation" or its "corporation" and let those entities funnel my donation to PCE's PAC, then I remain anonymous, as I learned here (

Does it matter that someone could pour a million dollars or more into PCE to influence Utah public policy and never be held accountable for that influence?

Someone has to be paying for its tv ads, and it's safe to say that $358,000 didn't cover all of them, PLUS the cost of running their campaign, PLUS the people they brought from other states and paid $6,000 for six weeks' work (, PLUS their attorneys' fees (, PLUS the pay-for-votes plan they started but scrapped (

If I had to guess, I'd predict that someone, somewhere has tried hard to match what they thought UTPS would likely collect. If that's so, I wouldn't be surprised if PCE has collected and spent a million dollars or more -- all from unidentified donors.

Is it a safe prediction that the regular media will ask these questions, and spend the time to track down the answers? If history is any guide, we may be disappointed again ( Paul Rolly will likely do his part, but there are a lot more reporters than just Mr. Rolly covering this issue.

Based on what we read in their articles, I can't tell whether or not regular media reporters read weblogs. But I do read those weblogs, and I wonder if we as webloggers ought to make sure that the reporters have the benefit of our work. So last night I went back through the 14-day archives of major papers and found the names of reporters who wrote articles about them, and collected their email addresses if those addresses were attached to their articles. Here's the list I made:

From the DesNews:
Jennifer Toomer-Cook,
Tiffany Erickson,
Lee Davidson,
Amy Choate-Nielsen,
Amelia Nielson-Stowell,
Lee Benson,
Joe Dougherty,
Jared Page,

From the Herald-Journal (Logan and Cache County):
Charles Geraci,
Devin Felix,

From the St. George Spectrum:
Katie Oliveri,
Ryan Dionne,

From the Trib:
Lisa Schencker,
Glen Warchol,

From the Davis County Clipper:
Doug Radunich,
Becky Ginos,

From the Park City Record:
Frank Fisher,

From the Ogden Standard-Examiner:
David Troester,
Amy K. Stewart,
Sam Cooper,

And from the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin:
Sarah Miley,

I hope they will look through the finance reports for themselves and see if my predictions are close. Even so, I hope to send to them whatever interesting facts I find there. At least they'll know that the issue has been researched by the blog community if nowhere else.

Speaking of the blog community, I was pleased to see this week that Tyler Slack at Desultory Thoughts is back with a new post on the voucher referendum, here ( Of course, I appreciate the links, but I think Tyler did a good job cataloging what else has been published on the details of House Bill 148. Check out his work.