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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Scott Murphy concocts the least interesting campaign fraud allegation…EVER!

By Sam Foster

It was bound to happen; in a close race for NY's 20th congressional district you have to expect some dirt to get flung at one point.  It looks like the blue side of the fence where Scott Murphy resides has come out with allegations that are certain to bore voters into the deepest of comas; The-Great-Gisbon-Accounting-Method-Fraud-Heard-'Round-NY20, which features a sleep inducing but enlightening education into the exciting world of accounting methods.

Get out the no-doze, as I explain…

It all started when a Chris Gibson aide had notified Maggie Habbermann at the Politico that Gibson had $504,000 cash-on-hand on July 9th prior to the official filing.  No formal press release with official details was provided by the campaign, just a small addendum to the Politico's report.  However, this figure touted on July 9th was not the same figure that appeared in Gibson's official public FEC filings.

Today, NYS Democrats and Scott Murphy hope to make that small addendum on Maggie's blog post the largest issue at stake for NY-20 voters this November, as opposed to say…Murphy's fundraiser with Obama administration official Rahm Emanuel to reward Murphy's flip-flop vote on Obamacare.  

The NYS Democratic Party issued the following statement:

This is about more than Chris Gibson puffing up his fundraising numbers to pretend he's a stronger candidate than he really is.  It's about whether voters can trust Gibson to tell the truth when it really matters.  Simply put, Gibson needs to show New Yorkers the money, starting with an account statement proving that he wasn't trying to pull a fast one on voters by lying about his campaign cash,

Chris Gibson's campaign argues that the figure in dispute was the campaign's bank balance as it stood on July 9th as opposed to the official cash-on-hand filing with the FEC.  Both the Post Star and Times Union have reported the story, but is this really worth all the ink?

The heart of the issue is really a matter of two different methods of accounting.  What could be more tedious?  Gibson's campaign statement of $504,000 is a financial figure based on what we accountants call Cash Accounting; aka what's in your bank account this very moment.  We use it everyday.  In fact, if I asked you how much money you had, you'd probably state your cash holdings in a similar way.  

However, FEC filings need to be filed in what's known as Accrual Accounting.  The difference is essentially akin to your bank statement (cash accounting) versus your check register (accrual accounting).  Since reporters and politicians live in the world of FEC filings, it makes sense why a casual statement of "we have $504,000" would be assumed as accrual based accounting by the media, but is this assumption from the press really a scandal?  

A scandal would require that Chris Gibson, as the NYS Democrats put it, was "trying to pull a fast one on voters by lying about his campaign cash."  The accusation is quite laughable.  After all, Scott Murphy has nearly a three to one advantage in cash-on-hand.  What would the Gibson campaign benefit by intentionally misleading the press regarding their cash-on-hand figure by $50,000 when Murphy has $1.5 million to Gibson's roughly $500,000?  Even if it were possible to cajole the press into reporting that Gibson, and not Murphy, had a cash-on-hand advantage, why would his campaign bother doing it, given the fact that they had two better narratives; a) outraising Murphy in the 2nd quarter and b) a stunning show of single donor support.  

The-Great-Gisbon-Accounting-Method-Fraud-Heard-'Round-NY20 is about as exciting as when Scott Murphy called his wife's cousin, his wife's sister.  These types of things happen.  How about moving on to something serious?


Chris Gibson's campaign just got caught red handed touting their own bank account on 7/9/10. Gibson's campaign turned itself in with the following statement:

$504 k was arrived at by the deposits of July 9th added to the bank balance. The apparent mistake was not realizing that the balance stated already included the deposit made that same day. This is a simple honest mistake, nothing more.
$ 447,375.51 balance July 9th
$ 56,871.61 deposit July 9th

...and The-Great-Gisbon-Accounting-Method-Fraud-Heard-'Round-NY20 comes to a conclusion...


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