Thursday, October 2, 2008

Lake County GOP Files Formal Campaign Disclosure Complaint Against Terry Link; Link Lashes Out

The heat on State Senator and Democratic County Chairman Terry Link (left) is getting pretty intense up here in Lake County.

On Wednesday, the Lake County GOP filed a formal complaint against Link's campaign organization with the State Board of Elections, alleging that Link violated state campaign disclosure laws by failing to disclose the payments made by the campaign to Link's two indicted petition circulators, Jerry Knight and Kenneth Davison. You can view the complaint here. As you all know, Knight and Davison have been indicted on multiple counts of perjury and forgery for, among other things, having dead people "sign" Link's petitions.

Briefly, the complaint first claims that Link never disclosed payments to Knight and Davison on Link's Form D-2, even though Link has admitted they were paid to circulate petitions on his behalf. Turns out, Link paid his right hand hatchet-man, "Sneaky" Pete Couvall, a staff salary, and then Couvall turned around and paid others, including Knight and Davison. As noted in the complaint, the Guide to Campaign Disclosure published by the State Board of Elections states that "any expenditure made to someone who serves as a conduit or 'middle man' for the payment must include a detailed breakdown of the expenditure - showing each recipient of the funds and a description of each expense." Was this a deliberate attempt to hide the payments to Knight and Davison from the Link campaign, just in case they were ever caught? The complaint doesn't say, but this doesn't look good for Link, on top of the problems this has already caused him.

In addition, the complaint notes that even though a campaign is required to specifically itemize any expenditure of over $150 to any single vendor, Friends of Terry Link had over $40,000 in unitemized expenditures in two recent semi-annual reporting periods (Jan 1, 2007 to June 30, 2007 and January 1, 2008 to June 30, 2008) . This would have required Link to have made payments to several hundred vendors in each period, which the complaint claims is an "unlikely scenario." Just for comparison, according to the publicly-available D-2's Link's unitemized expenditures are over 10 times what Senate President Emil Jones' were.

The Pioneer Press has already picked this up, and got a nasty response from Link:

"This is ridiculous, gutter politics, as always," Link said. "It's getting to the point where it's despicable. All he (Lake County Chairman Dan Venturi) wants to do is think, 'What more mud can I throw?' I hope the voters of Lake County read through this. When are the Republicans going to start talking about the issues?"

Uh, Senator Link: ETHICS IS AN ISSUE. One of the most important ones in a campaign. You've been in the state senate over a decade. You are the Dem county chairman. Do we really have to explain it to you? Perhaps we do. But, you're really the one that has a lot of ''splainin" to do to the voters.

It's also worth noting that when Link tried unsuccessfully to kick his GOP opponent Keith Gray off the ballot for no other reason than Gray had his nominating meeting the same day as 59th District State Rep. GOP nominee Dan Sugrue, that apparently wasn't "gutter" politics--and was that about the "issues" too? As we've noted often here, the Dems have a bad habit of dishing it out but not being able to take it.

Based on Link's reaction, it seems like he's feeling the heat. Let's see what Keith Gray does with this latest revelation about Link's questionable ethics.

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