Thursday, April 06, 2006

Salem's own Tom DeLay gets snagged

Gee. I'm shocked:

Salem Democrat Jackie Main has filed government-ethics and elections complaints against Rep. Billy Dalto, R-Salem, accusing him of improprieties during his independent fundraising effort for President Bush's 2004 Oregon campaign.

The complaints come as Dalto faces a tough re-election campaign against Democrat Brian Clem in District 21, which serves east and central Salem. It's one of a handful of pivotal Oregon House races that could determine which party controls the chamber.

As reported in the Statesman Journal on Oct. 30, Dalto formed his own "527 committee" to solicit large donors for Bush's Oregon campaign. Such committees, allowed under Section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, often are formed to skirt contribution limits in the McCain-Feingold campaign-finance-reform law. Dalto abandoned the project after raising less than $6,000 but paid himself a $1,800 management fee.

Main's complaint to the Oregon Government Standards and Practices Commission alleges that Dalto violated state ethics law by using his legislative title in his fundraising letter for Americans for a Brighter Tomorrow, his 527 committee. Main also questioned Dalto's sponsorship of 2005 legislation favorable to podiatrists after he secured a $5,000 loan from Salem podiatrist Richard Pefley to launch the 527 committee in 2004.

Main's separate complaint to the secretary of state's office alleged that Dalto violated campaign-finance law by converting campaign contributions to personal use. Dalto paid Pefley back and then used money derived from his House campaign fund to cover his 527 committee-management fee.

Imagine that. A Republican whose under investigation for ethics violations...and then there's the requisite GOP response to the charges:

"These charges are purely political and spurious at best," Dalto said.

Hmmm...where have I heard that one before?