From today's Courant:
The Lamont campaign questioned $387,000 in cash disbursements by Lieberman's campaign shortly before the Democratic primary won by Lamont on Aug. 8.
Also from the Courant, Joe Lieberman's campaign has an interesting explanation:
Tammy Sun, a spokeswoman for the Lieberman campaign, said the money was used for payments to young field workers hired in the closing weeks of the primary. She said they were paid $50, $75 or $100 a day.
Sun was unable to say Saturday why the workers, some of whom appeared to have stayed for days or weeks in dormitories at the expense of the Lieberman campaign, were not listed by name and salary.
It's not unusual to use petty cash to reimburse someone for expenses, but the Lieberman campaign wasn't doing that. Essentially they were paying independent contractors. The Lieberman camp used the petty cash to pay field workers daily. The Courant article goes on to say that that many of these workers stayed in dorms at the expense of the Lieberman campaign. Field workers may have been paid on a day to day basis, but the existence of dorms proves that many of them weren't being hired just for the day.
The Lamont campaign questions Sun's explanation.
From their statement:
Buried in Senator Joe Lieberman's latest campaign finance report is evidence of a massive, unaccounted for $387,000 slush fund of what his campaign calls "petty cash." This "petty" cash spending made up a giant chunk of Lieberman's overall expenditures, and is considered by political experts to be an unprecedented sum in Connecticut history. Yet because the expenditures are not itemized, the public cannot see who received all of this cash, meaning Lieberman is effectively circumventing federal campaign finance law (by contrast, Ned Lamont has listed just $500 in "petty cash" and strictly adhered to FEC rules). Will Lieberman disclose how he spent this slush fund? Or is he hiding something?
They also point out that the $387,000 was spent in a particularly active 12 day period before the primary.
"These unaccounted-for payments raise serious questions about our opponents' campaign," said Lamont Communications Director Liz Dupont-Diehl. "Given that these expenditures were made at the same time massive quantities of Lieberman "volunteers" were showing up to disrupt our events and engage in dirty tactics, an explanation is definitely necessary."
I see two problems here. First: paying for contractors out of petty cash. Petty cash is meant to pay for small expenses where it's not practical to cut a check. There's no reason not to pay field workers with a check. Surely passing out cash daily is far less practical than having people submit an invoice for a weekly or bi-weekly payment.
Second: While the Lieberman campaign did attempt to hire up to 4,000 workers, we know they never materialized. The weekend before the primary Lieberman switched his focus from GOTV operations to media buys. And Anyone who was at the polls on primary day, or caught any stop on Joe's Tomorrow Tour knows Joe's actual number of supporters was never that large. I just don't see how the ground support that they did have adds up to $387,561.
Pazniokas, Mark. "Lamont Donates $2 Million To Effort". Hartford Courant. 10/22/06
Dupont-Diehl, Liz. "Bush Donors Fund Lieberman Campaign Slush Fund". Official Campaign Press Release. 10/22/06