Take a look and you’ll notice something missing from candidate for Attorney General Pam Bucy’s finance reports: payments to a company called Strategies 360. According to its website, Strategies 360 is a company that offers “strategic positioning, market entry, and crisis management services” to its clients.
Since announcing in July of last year, Bucy has yet to pay Strategies 360 a dime. Why is this deserving of attention? It’s deserving of attention because of the relationship the two parties share and how said relationship isn’t being reported.
Let’s examine the weeds before we get to the meat of the issue, which is that Pam Bucy may be underreporting her expenses in order to inflate her “cash on hand.”
First, Strategies 360’s office – located at 2 N. Last Chance Gulch in Helena, MT – also serves as Pam Bucy’s campaign headquarters. Nowhere in Bucy’s financial reports does it list her campaign as leasing or renting office space from Strategies 360, so one has to assume Strategies 360 is working for the campaign.
Perhaps more telling is that fact that if you want to get in contact with Pam Bucy’s campaign you need to call 406.449.7303, which just happens to be Strategies 360’s office phone number.
Furthermore, Strategies 360’s Director of Public Affairs is listed as Pam Bucy’s campaign manager. The campaign is also staffed by other employees of Strategies 360, including Strategies 360’s newest staffer, Tim Warner who recently left his position as an “executive team member at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana.”
Put this all together and it’s clear Pam Bucy is receiving significant campaign services from Strategies 360, not just the printing services Bucy receives from Q Communications (a printing and design company owned by Strategies 360). In fact, it’s fairly clear that Strategies 360 isn’t just providing the Bucy campaign with services – Strategies 360 is single-handedly running Bucy’s campaign.
Why does this matter? It matters because it looks like Strategies 360 is either allowing the Bucy campaign to defer payment for the services it is providing in order to make it look like Bucy’s campaign has more cash on hand that it actually does or Strategies 360 simply isn’t charging Pam Bucy.
Either scenario is problematic.
If Strategies 360 is deferring its bill in order to inflate Bucy’s cash on hand numbers, it’s disingenuous and ethically precarious. The amount Bucy owes to Strategies 360 should at least appear as a debt on Bucy’s reports under “Debts and Loans not yet paid.”
Currently, Bucy’s campaign only lists the $10,000 loan Bucy made to her campaign last year.
If Strategies 360 is, in fact, “donating” its services to the Bucy campaign than another ethical issue arises. Nowhere on Bucy’s reports does she list any in-kind contributions from Strategies 360 or its staff. Individuals, of course, are free to volunteer their time to any campaign, but when what is volunteered is “work hours” (which it clearly what has taken place), that time eventually becomes an in-kind contribution, cannot exceed $310 dollars (probably 5 hours of work for one of these staffers), and must be reported.
I find the first scenario far more likely. It’s disappointing to see such silly games being played by a candidate for Attorney General, especially when that candidate has plenty of strengths and doesn’t need to play games. A candidate for Attorney General should adhere to a higher standard – especially when it comes to election laws.
Hopefully the next few reports will clarify what’s going on in terms of the relationship Bucy’s campaign for has with Strategies 360.