Monday, August 23, 2010

David Hall: Moneyman or straw man?

By Stephen George, Sunday, August 22, 2010, City Paper

If you’re not his relative, chances are you were surprised at the improbable victory of Goodlettsville-based father of five and contractor David Hall in the Republican primary for the 5th Congressional District. Hall’s campaign was quiet, if not invisible, to most media and observers but for the mysterious polls it released, conducted by a company no one had heard of, the last of which showed the candidate with a 6 percent lead a week before Election Day, its prescience confirmed on Aug. 5.

Exactly how Hall’s campaign managed to topple those of well-funded conservatives Jeff Hartline and CeCe Heil, both of whom had major national endorsements and war chests in the hundreds of thousands, is unclear.

We do know how he didn’t pull it off: fundraising. (link)

Comment: David has explained in detail how he pulled off his surprise victory- by hard work and thinking smart. He knocked on 15,000 doors of targeted likely Republican voters!

This article points out that the reported campaign funding was based on attributing an inflated value to the in-kind contributions, specifically the $200,000 for polling which more likely should have been valued at about $5,500. I do think David Hall tried to make his campaign appear more sophisticated and better funded than it was. If the FEC is satisfied, and he committed no crime, then this is not a big deal. Hard work and thinking smart are admirable traits. Appearing better funded and more sophisticated than your really are does not rise to the level of a serious character flaw.

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  1. Looks like Hall got exactly what he wanted from the City Paper - free publicity for his campaign. I'm still bothered by these matters; a few "minor issues" tend to add up in the long run to paint a somewhat cloudy picture. We want to support this man and his mission. But - we'll continue waiting for an official all-clear from the FEC.

  2. This is fraud. Claiming to have spent $200,000 when it is highly likely no money ever went from the right to left hand (seeing as how he owned the 'independent' firm he used to do polling) is fraud.

    The fact that you, or anyone else, would support this man is baffling. Your credibility is shot. If he's the nominee, then I would rather not vote than vote for him. He's disgraceful. He's everything Republicans shouldn't be.

  3. I would not agree that it is fraud. He is not defrauding anyone of anything. He did not deprive anyone of anything or get personal gain from this. Campaigns are supposed to report in-kind contributions. Two people would not complete a complex income tax return exactly the same way and how to report this in-kind contribution may simply be a matter of interpretation and the value one places on the in-kind contribution. Apparently David Hall thinks he does a bang-up job of polling.

    In my job, in writing grants, to show “local match” I have had to report the value of donated classroom space and the value of volunteer instructors teaching in their area of expertise. If I pulled a number out of a hat and said the value of the donated space was a hundred dollars a month and the value of the teachers was $40 an hour and another grant writer would say the value of the space was $20 and the guest instructors $15 an hour, I do not feel my higher estimate was committing fraud. Some reporting is open to interpretation.

    If David Hall owns AHC and AHC did polling for David Hall as a contribution and he estimates that polling as worth $200,000, I am just not terrible upset that he overestimated the value of it. The most that this over valuing of the contribution did was make his campaign look more prosperous than it really was. Do I prefer that he had not tried to hide that it was his firm doing the polling and do I prefer that he had not tried to present it as an independent third party? I do. Do I think that this is a moral failure that makes him unfit for public office? No, I do not.

  4. Deception is deception. It is apples and oranges to compare this to two people filling out a tax form differently, unless they both intend to be deceptive. Hall intentionally hid the "source" of funds, intentionally deceived voters as to the actual value of contributions, and intentionally took three attempts to "clear things up." With no response yet from the FEC, it remains to be seen whether things are indeed "cleared up". One thing is for certain: This deception is in line with Hall's attempting to co-opt an "endorsement" from Marsha Blackburn from his 2008 State Senate race. When asked to cease and desist, he merely added a clarifying date on his website and later used the same "endorsement" in an area newspaper with the exact same "endorsement" in big block type. This kind of deception is merely repeated in the FEC filings. I am not sure how this kind of behavior is defensible. The voters of the 5th District deserve better than this.

  5. Actually, I believe Mr. Hall is very shrewed in this. Look at it from this angle: Mr. Hall now says the money was a "loan" of such from AHC which he owns. He also states that he has give to his campaign out of his pocket almost 75k.
    Now, Mr. Hall's income last year almost at the poverty level. First questions is where did he get the "cash" to contribute to his campaign. Second, if he looses to Mr. Cooper, he can repay his "loans" back to himself from monies he has collected to run his campaign.
    This means if Mr. Hall is able to raise, oh, say, 100k and he looses, he is able to repay himself 100k for his "loans".
    A pretty smart strategy for someone who didnt accumulate much income last year from his construction business.
    Mr. Hall is a slick operator. So,unless you want to support an Independent candidate and stand up for your principles, you have one of two choices.
    A man, like Mr. Cooper, who is arrogant, thinks he is smarter than anyone else and votes on bills that the people of the 5th district and the majority of the country are against, or:
    You vote for Mr. Hall who is "slick" in finding a way to line his pockets after the election with campaign contributions, given in good faith and support.
    Not an easy decision and the people of Tennessee will be the looser no matter who is elected.

  6. I believe that much of about $200,000 was other phone communication then polling namely voter contacts designed to generate/get votes out for David Hall. The FEC Report States "188864.25" of the in kind donation was "In-kind - Phone Banks for GOTV". Whereas "In-kind - Campaign Poll" was only considered an amount of "12394.15". It is apparent that at least in the campaign’s eyes that the majority of the worth of the in-kind contributions was not the poll but the voter contacts made by phone which where to generate/identify/turnout support for David Hall.
    Rod Willaims is right that there is a level of interpretation in fixing the value of in-kind services.

  7. Well, P.C., interpret this. The Haslam campaign paid to have the ENTIRE state of Tennessee polled for the same amount of money that Mr. Hall 'gave' to his campaign to call the 5th District. Over inflated? Are you kidding me, by some 40%. That is deceptive no matter how you slice it and again if he gets real cash for his run for the seat and loses he gets to 'pay' himself back with real cash not "in-kind" cash.

  8. Mr. Williams, with all due respect. We in the GOP must hold ourselves to a higher standard than the Dems, who seem to think its no big deal either to mislead, misdirect and misappropriate funds, either at the local, state or federal level.
    Yes, Mr. Hall, won the primary and congratulations on his victory, but at what cost for the GOP?
    If there is a lesson to be learned from the Dem's in Tennessee, it would be that there should never have been 11 people running for the seat. After the candidates had some time to get their message out to the voters and raise money, those who did not have a 'shot' at winning the primary, should have been asked to bow out, so that the voters had two or three choices for the seat. Splitting the vote between 11 candidates, does not ensure that the best candidate goes up against Mr. Cooper.
    The idea that they dont want to hurt someones feelings is secondary to the best interests of the voters of the 5th.
    However, you want to spin it, Mr. Hall, flat out lied to the FEC on his campaign finance. This isnt some facebook, twitter or other social network posting, this is the Federal Government and sending a letter to the FEC and saying "do over" is not going to settle the matter. The Fed's take a dim view on lying to them and there will be a reconning on the matter, what that might be, I have no idea, but there will be one.
    At what point, does the candidate that is running become an embarrassment for the whole party? And at what point do we let what is best for the citizens outweigh what is best for the candidate.
    When a candidate, who is caught in false statements and knows he has been caught and tries to get out of the lies by telling more lies, then we in the party must stand up and demand a better accounting of that candidate.
    No, Mr. Williams, supporting the lesser of two evils is still wrong, no matter how thin you slice it.