Tuesday, February 05, 2008

More from the SC Times blog: Tinklenberg lobbying

Apparently, John Wodele, unpaid (according to Tinklenberg's latest FEC report) spokesman for the Tinklenberg Campaign, spoke to Larry Schumacher from the SC Times yesterday.

Tinklenberg spokesman John Wodele got back to me Monday and said he considers the accusation to be not a legitimate news story, since he said the US Attorney's office has rejected the letter's request.

For the record, Wodele said, Tinklenberg is not registered as a lobbyist and does not need to be registered as a lobbyist, under the 1995 Federal Lobbying Disclosure Act.

Further, he said, if Tinklenberg had met the criteria to register as a lobbyist and had failed to do so, the only consequence would be that he would be required to register in order to get everything straight.

Wodele, in his best Obi Wan Kenobi impression, "These aren't the droids you're looking for..."


a. Either has no idea what he's talking about.
b. Flat out lied to Larry Schumacher.

We'll let you decide based on the evidence...

From Developers are Crabgrass:

To me this is about as good as it gets. In response to the letter sent U.S. Attroney Frank J. Magill, Jr., last week posted here, Jan. 29, 2008, Mr. Magill replied that the matter is not within his jurisdiction, but my letter has been duly forwarded - it was a joint letter sent Feb. 1, to Jerry Hiniker and to me.

It is fortunate that it takes the local U.S. Attorney's office out of something that otherwise might have been politicized to harm that office - or at least had that potential.

It appears the Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House have jurisdiction over matters concerning registration of lobbyists under the statute. That is something I was unaware of, in contacting the Justice Department. It is a statute I am unfamiliar with and I erred.

However the letter is being forwarded to the Department of Justice's Office of Legislative Affairs "to determine whether the matter should be forwarded to the Secretary or Clerk."

It's not over yet and this is still media worthy. The US Attorney forwarded the letter...they've not found Elwyn innocent or guilty.

Schumacher then posts:

That seems right, as I remember covering a similar episode during the 2005 state Senate special election in which then-lobbyist Tarryl Clark was tardy filing required state lobbying reports. She updated them and that was the end of the story.

In any event, Wodele said Tinklenberg does not meet the following criteria, from the act:
Who is a Lobbyist?

Any person who:

Receives compensation of $5,000 or more per six-month period, or makes expenditures of $20,000 or more per six-month period, for lobbying;

Makes more than one lobbying contact; and

Spends 20 percent or more of his or her time over a six-month period on lobbying activities for an organization or a particular client.

Unless each of these criteria is met, there is no registration requirement for that individual.

I've seen the numbers from Elk River, Albertville, East Bethel, and Ramsey. This is purely highway projects, not counting any of Tinklenberg's rail projects, which are often times more spendy.

The amounts of money paid by each of these cities fulfils the first criteria.

City Council minutes in both Albertville and Elk River indicate that he is making more than one lobbying contact in Washington DC. Two criteria met.

The last criteria is nearly impossible for an independent journalist to account for. I do find it tough for me to believe that Tinklenberg spent less than 10 hours a week lobbying on these projects. Perhaps a Freedom of Information Act request will be in order to get timecards and a proper accounting of the time spent on these projects.

The Clark situation is completely different. From what I recall, she simply filed an amendment.

Tinklenberg has never filed anything.

"Move along now, nothing to see here..."

While the Tinklenberg campaign continues to push that idea, we'll remain vigilant.


fastjerry said...

I am confused about John Wodele's role here: noting he is unpaid begs the question: Is he "officially" representing Mr. Tinklenberg or is he simply acting as an apologist? Wodele does not seem to make the claim that Mr. Tinklenberg is not or was not lobbying. If his claim is that Mr. Tinklenberg does not need to register because he "does not need to be registered" (suggesting the Mr. T WAS lobbying) can he provide for us the clause in the 1995 Lobbying act that exempts Mr.Tinklenberg. Mr. Wodele seems not to have actually read the letter from Frank Magill, Jr. to me and Mr. Zaetsch: the letter contains no "rejection" as per his statement but rather refers the matter to the actual administrative authorities, the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of representatives. Lastly, Wodele's claim that Mr. Tinklenberg's "only consequence would be that he would be required to register in order to get everything straight." flies in the face of Sec 7 (2) of the lobbying act: "...be subject to a civil fine of not more than $50,000,
depending on the extent and gravity of the violation." I suggest Mr. Schumaker do a little more research before buying into the former spokesperson for a pro wrestler.
Jerry Hiniker

eric zaetsch said...

The Taryl Clark thing, Schumacher makes clear was a state filing situation. Under governing state law. Jerry looks to have studied the FEDERAL statute more than I have, and I defer to his comment.

Schumacher was speaking by analogy, without claiming to have taken much time to try to study the federal statute. He reported that fairly, though a bit indirectly.

The Tinklenberg mouthpiece, he does not say what authority he relies on for saying it's only a wrist slap.

To me, without a basis given for that view, the view has little weight to back it up or suggest there's any sound cause to believe things are that way.

The question of why the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the House are the parties to review the situatiion, I suppose is that the lobbying indicated in the evidence we have has not been of the executive branch, but the information we have from online records suggests contact with members the two legislative bodies is what Tinklenberg was suggesting he would be doing, for pay - the product he was selling those municipalities. Unless I misread the minutes, which ultimately speak for themselves and are in the letter Jerry and I sent.

Was it kicked upstairs to be shelved?

That is a concern, and that is what the Tinklenberg camp suggests happened.

Clearly, Tinklenberg still is in denial of what he's been up to and the minutes online, I trust them.

I think they honestly portray the truth - what they say happened more likely than not is exactly what happened.

I was not there, but I surely do NOT see Tinklenberg challenging the truth of the evidence in the letter, NOT claiming there is any factual inaccuracy. Just a blowoff. Don't worry be happy, Tink is sort of issue ducking.

That will not work.

This is a GOP Justice Department.

If he hides his activities from delegates to the next caucus levels he may wedge out Olson. But the big payback; the Bachmann people will eat him alive and the higher levels of the Justice Department might delay rather than shelve things. The fan could load up just about when Bachmann might need it to.

Things like that can happen. If it does play out that way, will Tinklenberg appologize for losing the chance to unseat Bachmann? Fat chance. I really doubt he would admit he hurt the party that would have trusted him, in that scenario, and it would not surprise me if that happens. Nobody has a crystal ball, but things playing out that way - who has a better scenario/forecast?

I see Tink putting personal blind or myopic ambition ahead of the objective goal of best unseating Bachmann. I see him taking that course by being who he is and pushing to wedge a better man aside.

That's how I see it.

He can sue me for saying Olson's the better man.

I would take that judgment to court and bank on it prevailing at a trial if it were not thrown out short of going to a jury.

There are a host of intangibles, but bottom line - in my judgment Olson is by far the better man.

fastjerry said...

I have been reflecting on Wodele's comments on Mr T's meeting the federal criteria for being a lobbyist, if I understand what he is trying to say is that on point 1)"Receives compensation of $5,000 or more per six-month period, or makes expenditures of $20,000 or more per six-month period, for lobbying;", Mr. T qualifies based on the info from various cities; point 2)"Makes more than one lobbying contact;", again the evidence says Mr. T is lobbying; and point 3)"Spends 20 percent or more of his or her time over a six-month period on lobbying activities for an organization or a particular client." , maybe on this point Wodele is saying that if Mr. T has say 10 contracts and spends 10% of his time on each he doesn't meet the 20% criteria and thus does not meet each criteria and does not need to register! Hmmm, that sounds like simply cooking the books a little will allow anyone to escape the lobbyist registration requirements. If that IS the case the question really isn't about Elwyn lobbying, he clearly is, but at the same time he is not a lobbyist; considering his quote in December he is just a liar. (BTW, I'd like to hear Elwyn speak out of his own mouth.) Eric Z is right, Bob Olson is by far the better man.
Jerry Hiniker