CD-7: Of Corporate Logos And Campaign Violations

CD-7 Democratic candidate Ed Perlmutter today accused his opponent, Republican Rick O’Donnell, of violating campaign finance laws prohibiting corporate contributions by attending a fundraiser organized by an insurance agency.

In a news release today, Perlmutter’s campaign says that a fundraiser held last night sponsored by the Bushell Insurance Agency, Inc violated federal campaign finance law because corporations are prohibited from giving directly to campaigns.

The Perlmutter campaign claims that the Bushell Insurance Agency sent out a mailing with a State Farm Insurance logo to policy holders asking them to attend the fundraiser. The company used corporate resources such as staff time and equipment to create the mailing. O’Donnell solicited campaign contributions at the event itself, which drew some 70 people, continues the charges, which the Perlmutter campaign plans use as the basis of a formal complaint with the U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Perlmutter also charges that the fundraiser appears to violate State Farm Insurance’s code of conduct.

“None of that is true,” says KC Jones, spokesperson for Rick O’Donnell. According to Jones, Arthur Bushell, owner of Bushell Insurance Agency, and a friend of O’Donnell’s, invited friends from his Christmas list to meet Rick O’Donnell. Bushell sent this invitation out from his home office at his own cost, which will be reported as an in-kind contribution to the campaign.

But Jones admitted that the invitation included the State Farm Logo. “I approved the text of the invitation,” said Jones. “Should it have had a State Farm logo? Did I know the logo would be there? No.”

Perlmutter’s campaign stood by its charges. “It’s a violation plain and simple because of the use of the State Farm logo. If this had been a personal deal, it would have been a letter from him. But this had his corporation name on it and used the State Farm Logo.” Chase added that the letter was addressed “Dear policy holder,” which made it unlikely that it was from a Christmas list.

Bushell, owner of Bushell Insurance Agency, gave $2,000 to the O’Donnell campaign on July 17, 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He did not return a call for comment.

“The question that’s being raised, whether the corporation hosted the event, if it’s not illegal it’s very close to the line,” said Jenny Flanagan, executive director of Colorado Common Cause. “How do you unintentionally put the invitation on corporate letter head?”

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