Press Release from Phil Gardner for Congress campaign.
As “independent” spending to benefit Rep. Beth Doglio reaches $414,000, Doglio says her only regret is her inability to work even more directly with several out-of-state groups propping up her congressional campaign.
During an online town hall hosted by local chapters of the Indivisible movement, Doglio was asked directly about her website’s red box. In a 3-minute answer Doglio removes any doubt about the purpose of her red box. She admits her intention is to give instructions about preferred messaging and voter targeting to out-of-state groups supporting her campaign, a practice which would be illegal if done secretly.
The video can be found here.
In response to a follow up question about the ethics of her red box, Doglio expresses ambivalence about the ethics of her own campaign practice, adding she’d prefer to dispense with the wink-wink, nudge-nudge tactic of red boxing and instead would rather “work directly with organizations that want to work with me”.
To be clear, Doglio’s idea — allowing federal candidates to work directly with allied groups on expenditures in support of their own campaigns — would make the existing maximum contribution limits to federal campaigns meaningless. Candidates could legally instruct donors to give money to allied groups, and candidates could then work directly with those allied groups on expenditures in support of their own campaigns.
In the first 10 days of voting, out-of-state groups spent more than $700,000 trying to influence WA-10 voters. CPC PAC — already running $150,000 in TV ads to benefit Beth Doglio — spent an additional $135,000 on digital advertisements and direct mail to benefit her campaign.
Two committees controlled by SEIU and UFCW — including a super PAC operated by UFCW International — spent $92,000 in negative digital ads and direct mail against an opponent of Doglio’s. Doglio is endorsed by UFCW and several SEIU locals.
Dollar figures were calculated using publicly available FEC reports, found online at www.fec.gov/data/independent-expenditures
This outside spending is not a coincidence. Exploiting a notorious loophole in federal campaign finance rules known as “red-boxing,” Beth Doglio, Kristine Reeves, and Marilyn Strickland have for weeks proudly displayed detailed instruction manuals and silent B-roll video footage for any super PAC or outside group to use in support of their candidacies.
“It’s sad to see Rep. Doglio, Rep. Reeves, and Mayor Strickland try and undermine the few limitations left in our broken campaign finance system,” Democratic candidate Phil Gardner said. “This is corruption hiding in plain sight, and voters can’t expect you to change D.C. if you’re already corrupted by what’s wrong with the system before you even arrive.”
About Red Boxes
After the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, independent expenditure-only committees, or super PACS, were permitted to raise limitless amounts of money from individuals and corporations and spend it to influence elections, all with little to no disclosure. The one restriction still in place is that campaigns cannot actively coordinate with a super PAC.
A loophole has emerged and it’s called red-boxing. Candidates post on their own website, in public view, inside a red box, a detailed instruction manual for the super PAC to make on their behalf, with the assumption the ad makers for the super PAC know to go and find these instructions. The candidates post the information inside a red box on their website, hence the name of the practice.
If this was done in secret, it would be illegal. But since it’s online, it is not legally considered coordination. All three of Phil Gardner’s Democratic opponents have a red box on their websites with instructions for their dark money super PAC. State Rep. Doglio’s can be found here, former State Rep. Reeve’s here, and former Mayor Strickland’s here.
Phil Gardner, who is not coordinating with any super PAC, calls on his opponents to take these pages down immediately, stop openly coordinating with super PACs, and denounce any outside spending in this race.
About Phil Gardner
With nearly a lifetime of calling the South Sound home, Phil Gardner has deep ties to the communities he’s served. He moved here as a young child when his father started working for the Frank Russell Company while his mother opened up a small after-school learning program for local children. Phil attended Puyallup public schools and graduated high school in University Place. He knows how to make change happen in our community and has been doing it since he first started volunteering on campaigns as a high school student, driven by his deep commitment to helping the people and world around him.
Gardner was part of Congressman Heck’s leadership team for nearly a decade, working alongside Congressman Heck in the fight to protect the Affordable Care Act, hold the Trump administration accountable, and advocate for South Sound veterans and military families. Phil would be the first Member of Congress born in the 1990s and Washington state’s first openly LGBT Member of Congress, and he looks forward to building on Congressman Heck’s success in the House.