Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Tuesday, November 1, 2011 8:00 pm

With all due respect to the women who filed complaints against Herman Cain back in the 1990s …

… I think this is a bigger deal:

Herman Cain’s two top campaign aides ran a private Wisconsin-based corporation that helped the GOP presidential candidate get his fledgling campaign off the ground by originally footing the bill for tens of thousands of dollars in expenses for such items as iPads, chartered flights and travel to Iowa and Las Vegas – something that might breach federal tax and campaign law, according to sources and documents.

Internal financial records obtained by No Quarter show that Prosperity USA said it was owed about $40,000 by the Cain campaign for a variety of items in February and March. Cain began taking donations for his presidential bid on Jan. 1.

Prosperity USA was owned and run by Wisconsin political operatives Mark Block and Linda Hansen, Cain’s current chief of staff and deputy chief of staff, respectively.

The authenticity of the records was verified by two individuals close to the firm.

It is not known if Cain’s election fund eventually paid back Prosperity USA, which now appears defunct. The candidate’s federal election filings make no mention of the debt, and the figures in the documents don’t match payments made by the candidate’s campaign.

Campaign law can get squishy sometimes, but it remains, for now, indisputably illegal for a corporation to run someone for president, the article’s legalistic use of  “might breach federal tax and campaign law” notwithstanding. (My guess? The writer and/or editor inserted the “might” to save themselves the expense of getting a lawyer to vet the story.) And this story makes pretty clear that that’s exactly what happened.

I no longer seriously expect a U.S. attorney to go out and do his or her job against a prominent Republican, but the Federal Elections Commission can create enough civil and financial trouble to jack Cain’s legal bill into the stratosphere.

The sudden revelation of ancient sexual-harassment charges just as Cain surges to the top of the GOP polls has Karl Rove (who’s working for rival Romney) written all over it. But this? I’m pretty sure you score it as an unforced, unassisted error.

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