Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Jeff Hartline explains the salary controversy. I'm satisfied.

Given the controversy over the salary that Jeff Hatline is paying himself to run for Congress I contacted the Hartline campaign and asked for an explanation. I asked, if the salary Jeff is paying himself is not $105,000 annually, how much is it? And, I asked for a justification of Jeff paying himself a salary.

Below is the response I received from David Shepard, Jeff's campaign manager. Please read this response carefully, if you want an understanding of the issue. The highlighting in the following letter is mine, otherwise this is the response as I received it unedited.

As far as I am concerned I am satisfied. As I stated in a previous post, if Jeff's contributors are not concerned that he is paying himself a salary why should I be concerned. Unless someone can prove that the facts as presented have been misrepresented then I am accepting this correspondence at face value. As far as I am concerned this is much to do about nothing.

Paying himself at the rate of $65,000 a year seems reasonable if that was what he was earning prior to running for office. If one must continue working their day job while running for office, one could not run an effective campaign and incumbents would be harder to dislodge. Running for office is a full-time job. If one could not pay themselves a salary from campaign funds while running for office then only the very wealthy could afford to run.

Dear Rod:

To answer your questions, a candidate is allowed by law to receive a salary amount from the campaign that is figured pro-rata based on his/her salary from the previous year. In Jeff's case, this is $65,000. He was an official candidate under the rules as of January 1 of this year and has been campaigning full time since then, having taken a leave of absence from his job. He has received a total of $27,083.35 gross (before taxes) for the first six months of this year. (The second quarter salary numbers reported for Jeff are net after taxes.)

As long as he remains a candidate, he will be paid at that rate, consistent with the law, and he will not make any more than he made last year for the same period of time. The campaign made the payments to Jeff after April 1 to conform with FEC rules, which is why there are no salary payments reported in the first quarter. The Commission wants to make sure candidates actually get into a race and aren't just trying to raise money, put it in their pockets and drop out. Jeff is obviously a serious candidate and is in the race to win.

I understand the law, which goes back to 2003, is relatively new, but it has been used by other candidates that have won and gone on to Congress. Jeff wanted to meet as many people as possible and explain why he thinks he is the best person to represent them in Congress. He committed to do that full time, and he has worked tirelessly. Not everyone can self-fund a campaign or take a year off from work. This law makes it possible for candidates like Jeff to make a serious run for Congress, just like the millionaires and incumbents.

Some people may honestly believe that only independently wealthy folks should be in Congress. Many of those criticizing Jeff about this, I suspect, simply see this as an opportunity to try to tear down another candidate. Others may be sincerely unaware of the law and its provisions and have not taken the time to do their homework or consider the wisdom of it before opining about Jeff's decision to play by the rules and go that route. Regardless, the campaign, with the overwhelming support from our contributors and supporters, will continue to go forward with Jeff working full time to make sure the voters hear his case. Hopefully, the issues he is discussing with voters – spending control and debt reduction, repealing and replacing Obamacare, energy independence, etc. – will be the focus going forward.

One other side note: Jeff never considered any other funding option for his living expenses during this time than what the FEC provides because it establishes the most accountable, transparent and public way to handle the issue of personal income during an election for a challenger like Jeff. It has been suggested by some since this has become an issue, that we should have done "something else that would not have to be reported". Really? Now, what does that imply exactly? Rod, I think you know what that implies. However, Jeff set out to run a campaign that is completely above-board.

It is hard to understand why following FEC regulations about personal income during an election campaign "smells bad" to some, and yet, creative funding options that are not reported, somehow smell better. It is this sort of thinking that has gotten us the kind of representation we have in Congress today. And it is this kind of thinking that Jeff's campaign is challenging.

Thank you for your interest in the truth. If you have any further questions, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Sincere regards,

David R. Shepherd

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  1. Hartline's decision in this case has made him unelectable in November. He should withdraw from the race immediately.

  2. Well I think Hartline's decision will ruin any chance he has against Cooper. He needs to bow out gracefully, due to a "health issue" or something of the like.

  3. Another excellent post, Mr. Williams, and thank you Mr. Shepherd, for being clear.

    Hartline is the best candidate to beat Jim Cooper and work for the people of the 5th district. His contributors are happy, and grateful he has no "health issues!"

  4. Thanks, David, for taking the time to provide these details. Also, with regard to the side note near the end, thanks to Jeff for not seeking a way to fund living expenses that would not have to be reported.

    Rod: good blog!

  5. Thank you Mr. Scott, for allowing the Hartline Campaign to state the law and the reasons for the salary taken.

    No matter what anyone says, those who want their own candidate to take the primary will never agree with this article, unless of course it was their candidate that was being attacked. But thank you anyway for your fair reporting of the facts.

  6. Rod, thanks for posting this. I too am satisfied and believe that while it is a legitimate topic for discussion some of the other candidates are simply looking for ways to bring down a front-runner.

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