Dan Sebring: inside the numbers again

Yesterday I wrote a short comparison of the fundraising numbers for Rep. Gwen Moore and and her challenger in 2010, Mayflower descendant Dan Sebring. At the time, I noted Sebring ended the reporting period with $516 cash on hand, and debts owed in the amount of $3,560. An astute commenter asked where the donations Sebring received went, and how he accumulated $3,560 in debt. Thanks to the Federal Elections Commission, I’ve got the answers to those questions, but I’ve also got some questions of my own.

The $3,560 in debt reported by the Sebring campaign is owed to campaign treasurer Michael Strautmann for website creation, but what piqued my curiosity are the disbursements made by the Sebring campaign. Of the nine disbursements I counted, seven were made to Dan Sebring, Michael Strautmann, and Jessica Strautmann. What’s more, among those disbursements was $1,445 to Dan Sebring for “billboard labor.” Mind you, Sebring reimbursed himself $458 for the billboard materials, so the $1,445 wasn’t an all-inclusive disbursement. What I’d like to know is how long Dan Sebring labored to create his mobile billboard, because even if it took 20 hours to create the billboard, Sebring’s hourly rate would be a handsome $72.25 an hour.

Here’s the FEC report for the most recent reporting period, if you’d like to see what Dan Sebring’s been up to for yourself:

Dan Sebring FEC report

While Dan Sebring’s disbursement to himself may be legal, it certainly raises some questions about why he needs to reimburse himself for time spent working on his own campaign. What’s more, why is Dan Sebring giving himself $1,445 payouts while his campaign is in debt to the tune of $3,560 in debt?

EDIT: It’s been brought to my attention the $1,445 disbursement to Dan Sebring was actually part of an “in-kind” contribution by Sebring to his own campaign, which according to FEC guidelines has to be reported as both an in-kind contribution and an in-kind disbursement. Apologies for the confusion.


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14 thoughts on “Dan Sebring: inside the numbers again

  1. I can’t get the FEC report to load. Is Dan Sebring currently employed? If not, maybe his campaign is simply an attempt to follow experts’ advice to “create your own job” during a recession. Looks like he’s helping out his friends the Strautmanns as well. Is he getting money from out-of-state conservatives? If so, he should be applauded for helping Wisconsin’s economy, especially considering the loss of manufacturing jobs in the District.

    Maybe we should all encourage our unemployed friends to run against comfortable incumbents on fringe platforms. There are always out-of-state wingnuts who are willing to throw money at hopeless candidates. Mobile billboards could be a boon to the auto industry (and may qualify for cash-for-clunkers tax credits).

    Political campaigns could be a real growth industry in Wisconsin.

  2. Weird. After I posted my comment, the FEC report loaded. I see that Dan Sebring owns his own garage business, so he probably charged his going rate for the “billboard labor” (not only his own time, but all the overhead costs that typically goes into such charges). $72/hour is a little high, but not unheard of. Still, I’m guessing that business is slow these days and he is making his own work. Jessica Strautmann is one of his employees at the garage, and Michael Strautmann is unemployed. My theory stands. It’s good work if you can get it.

  3. If you look, the $1445 in receipts are labeled “in kind” as in in-kind donation. These are not payouts to him, rather he’s paying out to the campaign.

    Also, I noticed you don’t have Gwen’s report with her tens of thousands of dollars in special interest donations. So I don’t see a whole lot of parity when you’re making this argument over campaign finance reports. If you look at her 2007-2008 campaign report, she took in over $500,000, almost exclusively from special interests. However, I don’t recall seeing one commercial, getting a single mailer, one radio spot, etc, but she burnt through over $450,000 of that.

  4. I don’t know why I waste my breath, however there have been many accusations made here that I cannot allow to stand. Dan Sebring’s campaign disbursements have been for the costs of making and distributing literature, campaign buttons, etc., and without out of state funding like Ms. Moore enjoys in abundance, we are forced to do our own work for the campaign. I welcome any one of you to come down to our campaign headquarters and talk with Mr. Sebring yourself, and see where our efforts truly lie.
    And Zach–why haven’t you posted the email response that Dan Sebring sent to you regarding his plans to turn things around for the 4th District and his intended emphasis on creating JOBS for its’ people? Does this hit a little too close to home for the leftists on this site?

    1. Jessica, this entry was written and posted at 11:11 p.m. last night. I didn’t receive the email you reference until 7:41 a.m. this morning, and it didn’t get posted because I just happened to be at work when the email hit my inbox.

      P.S. – Thanks for the press release. It’s flattering to be the sole subject of a press release from a Congressional candidate, but if I could offer one piece of advice, you should really get a good copy editor, to avoid silly typos.

  5. Hi Zach,

    Personally, and I speak only for myself as a leftist on this site, I would like to feel the impact and the sustained burn of Mr. Sebring’s hard-hitting plan. I want to feel how it creeps up behind me, give me a tingling on the back of my neck, and then, before it’s too late — WHAM!! I’m voting Republican. IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU.

    Actually I’m more interested in seeing whether Mr. Sebring thinks that President Obama is an American citizen. Then I’ll take her hard-hitting plan. I’m ready for it…

  6. Also, Zach, I would like to politely disagree with Jill about the viability of running for office as a job. Again, speaking only for myself, and as someone who more walked for office rather than ran for office, it is not, I repeat, not a viable way to make up for lack of paid work. Part of my perspective comes from the amount of fundraising I did for myself, which was minimal. I was running in a four-way primary against three life-long Milwaukeeans. (A trait that I did not share with the other candidates.) That said, between my “fringe platform” (the County should collect fry grease from area restaurants and use it to make biodiesel for the County bus fleet) and my strategic use of canvassing and the Interwebs, I got a better dollars-raised::vote ratio than any other candidate may have gotten — about $0.09 spent per vote. Considering I could have spent $5 per vote and still lost, I did great! Rarely has minimal effort paid off so well.

    This misses the point, though. Candidates can use some funds for themselves while they’re on leave from work. But doing it too much looks very bad, and may land you in trouble.

    The other problem is that if you’re running against Congressional incumbents, those elections happen every two years. If you raised $50,000, and every cent of it went to you (not sure if you can do that), you’d be living kind of tight. Comfortably, perhaps, but tight. The time between fundraising cycles would be the hardest, psychologically. And after a round or two, the donor will probably dry up. No, I think you’d be better off trying subsistence farming. It works for me! (And having a lawyer/life partner/almost-wife. That helps even more.)

  7. JH:

    “I want to feel how it creeps up behind me, give me a tingling on the back of my neck, and then, before it’s too late — WHAM!! I’m voting Republican. IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU”

    I never intended to vote for Obama (in fact, I voted for McCain in the primary) but the precise moment that I changed my mind was when McCain spoke of his plan at the debate to stop foreclosures. At that point, it became clear that all of McCain’s plans to improve the economy would increase government (at the same time McCain was speaking of the need to reduce the size and scope of government). Now to be clear, I’m in favor of reducing the size of government but I would rather have the guy that just comes out and says he wants big government and delivers instead of the guy that says he wants small government but gives you a huge one (See Bush). That way we assess the results on policy instead of rhetoric.

    1. Super, it’s the devil you know vs. the devil you don’t. While I typically do vote straight party line, I’ve deviated from time to time. As Jason mentioned below, I voted for Don Holt for Milwaukee County Sheriff, and as a younger man I actually voted for….wait for it…..Tommy Thompson for governor.

  8. SId: I’ve voted Republican excatly once in my life. It was for Don Holt, the Republican candidate for sheriff here in Milwaukee County. Unlike the incumbent, Mr. Holt is an honest Republican. (Don’t know how he feels about the GOP now, anyway.)

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