Ed Martin, the leading contender for the Republican nomination to oppose Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO-3), has come up with a largely unreported gem about Prince Russ.
Carnahan was first elected to Congress in 2004 after a razor-thin win in the Democratic primary over Jeff Smith, a political scientist and future state senator. Smith, now a former senator, is serving time in federal prison for his role in covering up an FEC violation involving his campaign’s improper involvement with a purported independent expenditure on an anti-Carnahan mailer. The investigation that snared Smith was initiated by a complaint filed by the Carnahan campaign.
On the day Smith was sentenced, Carnahan issued a statement about the case, noting, “There is a reason for, uh, proper disclosures and accounting in campaigns…” (Hat tip: Jake Wagman of the St. Louis Post Dispatch). But Martin’s campaign web site notes that, at that very moment, Carnahan’s own ownership stake in Castle Ballroom LLC had been omitted from his latest financial disclosures.
Martin notes that in the same 2004 election in which the Smith infractions had occurred, the Carnahan campaign paid $10,400 in rent to Castle, which it turns out was partially owned by Prince Russ and his wife. But the property contained only a derelict building on which no improvements had been made, so there was no office space to rent. Federal election law strictly prohibits the payment of campaign funds for the personal benefit of the candidate. But at the time, the public didn’t know that Castle was a Carnahan-owned property, because Prince Russ’ ownership interest in that company had not been disclosed.
As Prince Russ ironically noted while reveling in the demise of his one-time rival, “There is a reason for, uh, proper disclosures and accounting in campaigns…” “Uh” indeed!