Ain’t No Wrong Now When It’s Right
Further campaign finance evidence proves pretty decisively that the Moderate Party’s main misstep was to fall into one of the many traps that Rhode Island’s political establishment has laid for those who might consider challenging their reign by methods that they haven’t rigged. From page 30 of the Campaign Finance Manual (PDF) provided by the Board of Elections (emphasis added):
Notwithstanding the limits specified above, an additional ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) within a calendar year may be contributed by an individual, political party committee or political action committee to a political party committee to be utilized solely for organizational and party building activities but which shall not be used by the political party committee for contributions to candidates for public office. Funds contributed to a political party committee for organizational and party building activities shall not be used for monetary or “in-kind” contributions to candidates for public office.
If one accepts that it is, indeed, “party building” for a town committee to send money to the state party, then Ken Block did absolutely nothing wrong. It’s very Rhode Island to fault people for not following rules that the players simply know, among themselves, to apply, but it’s not a very reasonable approach.
Which is not to say Block shouldn’t take a political hit for this. On my end, I’m disappointed that he’s amenable to preventing future activists from employing the methods that he apparently found to be necessary. He should declare campaign finance laws to be what they are: arbitrary and helpful to incumbents and powerful people.
Folks who actually support the Moderate Party, as such, should be disappointed that, with all the coverage and momentum that the group has gained over the past year, it still has to dip into the personal fortune of its founder.