It’s election season here in Cudahy, and though we still have just over two months until the spring election, we’ve seen no shortage of wild accusations of illegal campaign activities and back-door deals being set up by candidates. Being a new resident to Cudahy, I’ve taken a keen interest in our local political goings-on, and so I’d like to take a look at what’s being said, and in doing so, perhaps provide some clarity to individuals and bloggers who seem confused by what’s going on.
In the “YOUR STORIES” section of the CudahyNOW website, Carolyn Laurie, who I’ll assume is a resident of Cudahy, posted a story accusing at least two of Cudahy’s mayoral candidates (one of whom I can confirm was Kevin Fech) of engaging in illegal campaign activities (emphasis mine):
I’ve observed two candidates used the Cudahy Public Library to conduct either a fundraiser or meet the candidate event. Based on another comment posted on Mr. Hollenbeck’s blog citing McCain Feingold, I am led to believe that the explicit use of a government owned property or building for partisan political purposes, individual benefit or political campaigning is strictly illegal.
It’s worth noting Carolyn Laurie is basing her assessment of the illegality of mayoral candidates hosting campaign events in the Cudahy Public Library’s meeting room on a blog entry by Randy Hollenbeck, who is not in fact licensed to practice law in Wisconsin (or any other state that I’m aware of). Ms. Laurie is no doubt basing her legal opinion on a recent blog entry by Hollenbeck, who opined incumbent Mayor Ryan McCue violated election laws when he solicited signatures for his mayoral campaign at the Cudahy post office. To bolster his argument, Hollenbeck cited the McCain-Feingold Campaign reform bill as proof of his assertion, while conveniently ignoring some key words within the law (emphasis mine):
“The McCain-Feingold Campaign reform bill (Public Law 107-155) strengthens the restrictions on soliciting donations and campaigning on federal property and says “IN GENERAL- It shall be unlawful for any person to solicit or receive a donation of money or other thing of value in connection with a Federal, State, or local election from a person who is located in a room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties by an officer or employee of the United States. It shall be unlawful for an individual who is an officer or employee of the Federal Government, including the President, Vice President, and Members of Congress, to solicit a donation of money or other thing of value in connection with a Federal, State, or local election, while in any room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties by an officer or employee of the United States, from any person.” This is generally interpreted to bar campaigning from federal property.”
I’ve seen no allegation Ryan McCue was soliciting signatures for his mayoral campaign while inside the Cudahy post office, but rather that McCue solicited for signatures outside the post office, so it would seem to me Mayor McCue was not in violation of McCain-Feingold. However, it’s also been alleged Mayor McCue may have been in violation of U.S. Postal Service regulations regarding campaigning on Postal Service property, similar to a case previously disposed of by the courts (emphasis mine):
Significantly, the Postal Service’s regulation itself draws distinctions based on the character and location of its property. The ban on election campaigning applies to sidewalks on post office property. 39 C.F.R. § 232.1(a). But the ban explicitly does not apply to postal sidewalks “along the street frontage of postal property . . . that are not physically distinguishable from adjacent municipal or other public sidewalks.” Id. § 232.1(a)(ii).
So if Ryan McCue wasn’t in the Cudahy post office, and he wasn’t on the sidewalks on post office property, then he clearly didn’t break any laws, despite assertions to the contrary by folks like Randy Hollenbeck, who’ve made their disdain for Ryan McCue abundantly clear.
While much has been written about Mayor McCue (mostly by Randy Hollenbeck), Al Kujawa has posted his own story in the “YOUR STORIES” section of the CudahyNOW website, and Kujawa took aim at mayoral candidate Tony Day:
Amongst the most concerning rumors echoing through the halls of the the Cudahy municipal building is the rumored back-door deal involving former economic development director Jack Vacarro and candidate Anthony Day. As one version has it, candidate Day, if elected would act to eliminate the full-time position of mayor in favor a part-time post. Control of the day-to-day operations would be handed over to an appointed City Administrator. The rumor mill would have us believe Vacarro is the insider slated for appointment in a Day administration.
Obviously I can’t speak to the veracity of Mr. Kujawa’s claim, but it’s certainly a sensational accusation, and it will no doubt merit a response from Tony Day.
I’ll have more on Cudahy’s mayoral election and all its twists and turns as they develop, but I can say one thing with absolute certainty: Cudahy’s 2010 mayoral election will not lack for intrigue and drama.