Today, two Washington advocacy groups concerned with clean elections filed a complaint against the Zinke campaign for coordinating with Special Operations for America. Their complaint includes a charge that photographs paid for by the Zinke campaign were used in a Special Operations for America ad, coordination that violates election law. From the Associated Press, today:
Television advertisements by Special Operations for America PAC that support Ryan Zinke’s House bid include photographs that appear to come from the Republican’s campaign, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 allege in their complaint.
Independent expenditure-only committees, or super PACS, such as SOFA PAC are barred from consulting or coordinating with the candidates they support. Republishing campaign materials is considered an in-kind contribution to a candidate, and candidates cannot coordinate with Super PACs to republish campaign materials.
And the story gets even better. While Mr. Zinke was unavailable for comment in the story, his campaign manager, Robert Kearley, was. The catch? Special Operations for America paid Robert Kearly over $4,000 just this past September and October. To recap, Ryan Zinke defended himself from allegations that he illegally coordinated with the Super PAC he started by sending out a spokesman today who is running his campaign–and who worked for Special Operations for America as recently as five months ago.
If you’re a reader, you saw that story here first. Back in January, this blog discussed the same issue, when I published a story about a shared series of photos commissioned by the Zinke campaign that appeared on the SOFA ads. Today, Zinke’s handpicked chairman for Special Operations for America claimed that the photos were “open source,” a claim that makes about as much sense as Zinke’s absurd connection that there is no coordination between his campaign and SOFA.
It makes more sense every day why Ryan Zinke is touting the endorsement of former Senator Conrad Burns, doesn’t it?