Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Defense Quizzes Kennedy on Campaign Finance Complaints

On cross-examination, Meyer quizzed Kennedy on the filing of campaign finance report complaints with the Elections Board.

Meyer asked if many complaints are filed for political reasons. "I think there's a political advantage or disadvantage to filing complaints," Kennedy said. But Elections Board staff audit the complaints and weed out those that are baseless. "There have been examples where we've dismissed complaints because they did not allege a violation."

Meyer asked several questions that suggested the blurring of campaign and government work in the Capitol. Asked whether he ever contacted legislative staff during office hours about campaign issues, Kennedy said, "I made calls whenever my work schedule permitted me to make the calls because my calls were related to the work my office does."

Kennedy said staffers would often inform him they were on their lunch hour when they'd come by the Elections Board. "My response was always, 'Your time is between you and your boss and you and the Ethics Board,'" Kennedy said.

Meyer also grilled the Elections Board chief on contradictions in campaign contribution reporting: doesn't an incumbent legislator receive a value by having the ability to hold a press conference in the Capitol, or the governor by using a state-owned plane to fly to a city and present a check?

"That's one of the perks of being in office," Kennedy said. "You're going to be in a public setting and on behalf of the government to provide benefits to the local government or public.

After a half-hour cross-exam, Meyer turned over questioning to Schultz attorney Stephen Morgan.

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