Tuesday, July 28, 2020

FACT CHECK: No, Sen. McSally's Campaign Did NOT Pocket Salvation Army Contributions

UPDATE, 4:45pm: Salon has significantly re-worked its article to remove the FALSE "cash grab" allegations. It now ACCURATELY notes the campaign paused fundraising. Campaign DID receive contributions during that period but had never promised to pass on "passive" contributions to Salvation Army.

The accusation: Arizona Senator Martha McSally's campaign is guilty of a $300,000 "cash grab", keeping money that was supposed to go to the Salvation Army for pandemic relief efforts. That is the claim by Salon today, attempting to analyze campaign finance reports to bolster that effort. 

In April, Arizona's Politics investigated how the campaign set up their "15 Days of Giving", when they announced that they had helped raise "more than $212,000" while ceasing campaign fundraising activities. The facts: the Senator's campaign did NOT receive those Salvation Army donations and there is no evidence that the campaign either violated campaign finance laws or pocketed any money.

Salon's reporter went through the campaign's quarterly report filed 12 days ago, which included the early April period in question. Seeing no disbursements to the Salvation Army, he concluded that the monies donated to the campaign during those days would be donated. The Arizona Republic's website  publicized the article this afternoon.

However, the campaign did not promise to turn over any contributions made to the campaign to the
Salvation Army. Instead, the promise was to cease "fundraising activities", and a separate website for contributions to the religious non-profit was set up and promoted by the campaign.

The set-up was not clearly made public by the campaign. So, Arizona's Politics inquired back in April. The full exchange is below, but the gist is that the campaign set up a separate website and publicized it.* Those contributions went DIRECTLY to the Salvation Army. There is no reason to believe otherwise.

Mystery solved. And, as Arizona Republic columnist E.J. Montini put it in his follow-up to the initial column: "If Salon sandbagged the McSally campaign it should be ashamed. And if by noting that article I exacerbated the problem I apologize."

CONCLUSION: The accusation by Salon that the McSally campaign executed a "cash grab" is FALSE.

Full exchange, 4/21/20:
Arizona's Politics: "I first saw this earlier today on Twitter, and raised these questions that I'm hoping you can answer:

Were those contributions routed through the campaign committee? If so, limited to $2800, no corporations, applies to contribution limits, etc. If not, how was it tracked & will there be disclosure?
McSally campaign: "Hello! Thanks for reaching out. 

No donations were sent through the campaign committee, Senator McSally believes it’s a time to come together, not for politics.

While the Senator made the request, the donations were made to Salvation Army of Arizona directly and are treated as any other nonprofit donation.

Donations given on the 15DaysofGiving.care website (which is what we promoted) went directly to Salvation Army. They are a 501 c3 and they tracked and told us how much they raised from our efforts. Any questions about disclosing donors should be routed to SA."

*Added, 2:30pm: McSally's video announcing the "15 Days of Giving" fundraising pause announced the separate website (www.15DaysOfGiving.care). That website is still live, and it takes clickers to a Salvation Army donate page (with special coding to credit McSally campaign).

If you would like to show your appreciation for Arizona's Politics reporting, please consider donating to our pool to support OTHER journalism-related nonprofits.  

We welcome your comments about this post. Or, if you have something unrelated on your mind, please e-mail to info-at-arizonaspolitics-dot-com or call 602-799-7025. Thanks.

No comments: