Friday, April 6, 2007

CD08: Darrell Watson press release mangles the facts

The Darrell Watson campaign continues its miscues.

Yesterday Wanda James sent out a press release entitled "Darrell Watson The Strongest Candidate District 8." The evidence for this statement was found in campaign finances, with Watson raising over $19,000 in March, more money than any of his competitors had raised during the entire race.

Trouble is, that's factually incorrect.

1) The Watson campaign did not raise "over $19,000" during March. The exact figure was $18,347.55. Why they would fudge the numbers like that is beyond me.

2) Numbers for the other candidates were also wrong. They claim "the closest competitor has raised less than $17,000 for the entire race." In fact, Carla Madison has raised $26,385.99, according to the latest disclosure forms.

3) Not only did Watson fail to overwhelm his competition by the generosity of his followers, he didn't even win the monthly battle. Watson's $18,347.55 for the month of March came in behind Carla Madison's $18,873.99.

4) Finally, instead of showing that "Watson shows huge lead in fundraising" (as claimed in the article's subtitle), the March numbers showed only a slim financial lead: $31,554.91 vs $26,385.99.

Perhaps the Watson folks were being disingenuous, trying to compare Watson's April numbers with the other candidate's numbers only up to March. Or perhaps they were discounting a gift from Carla Madison to her own campaign - even though Watson gave money to his own campaign as well. All such gifts from candidates are listed under the same "Form A, Report of Contributions" as used for external contributions.

Whatever the case, the Watson campaign clearly had access to the correct information. Their financial disclosure was stamped 2 hours after Carla Madison's disclosure and the press release came out 20 hours later (just 3 hours before this posting). Yet they chose to be "Clintonian" in their parsing... or as the British would say, "too clever by half."

The full numbers are available online, and may be compared with full text of the Watson press release below.

For Further Information Contact:
Wanda James
(303) 388-8797

Watson shows huge lead in fundraising and in endorsements

Denver, CO – Thursday, April 5, 2007 – Denver County Clerk and Recorder reported today that District 8 candidate Darrell Watson has raised over $33,000 during course of his campaign. Over $19,000 was raised in this reporting period alone! His closest competitor has raised less than $17,000 for the entire race

The Watson campaign is also showing a tremendous amount of support in key endorsements including labor, business and elected officials. Former Chair of the Colorado Democratic Party, Chris Gates has recently endorsed Watson.

“The support we have received has been incredible,” stated Watson. “We are gathering widespread support from all over the district and all over the city.”

About Darrell Watson

Darrell is a 13-year resident of City Council District 8 and a life-long Democrat. As President of the Whittier Neighborhood Association, Darrell fought to protect the character and history of his neighborhood, by insisting on enforcement of zoning ordinances, supervising the planting of over 350 trees, as well as coordinating the revitalization of all five neighborhood parks.

Darrell has served as the chair of the Biased Policing Task Force and forged a partnership between the police, community, and elected officials to create a new training program for Denver police officers, as well as to increase community policing across Denver. He has also served as Chair of the Legislative Committee of the Colorado Democratic Party, on the Board of Trustees for the Denver Foundation, and on the Land Use Transportation Advisory Committee.

Supporting an increased economic opportunity within Council District 8, Watson collaborated with the community, developers, and city leaders to build the first residential mixed use property in Whittier along the 30th and Downing Light Rail. This development created affordable housing, much-needed retail space, and the home of the Whittier Neighborhood Community Center.

About the 8th District

City Council District 8 sits north of Colfax Road, and south of 40th Avenue. It extends from Speer to Holly Street and many neighborhoods including Five Points, City Park, Cole, Whittier, Clayton, Skyland, North Capitol Hill and Northeast Park Hill. Elbra Wedgeworth is our current representative, but is unable to run again due to term limits.


LJMAS said...

Please don't punish Darrell for being accurate.

1) The contribution figures were correct. Several people donated auction items and other fund raiser costs to the campaign, and these contributions are listed as 'gifts in kind' on fund raising report form C. There were over a thousand dollars of such items donated to the Watson campaign this month.

2) The numbers were accurate comparing to the other campaigns.
Carla Madison has loaned her campaign $10,000. This loan is reported on her February disclosure Form D. She appears to have misreported it on her March disclosure form as donation in the period of March that was given on the March date of 'February'.
I do not speak for Ms. James, but I believe her press release considers this 0 interest loan that is payable on demand from the candidate into her own account as outside of any reasonable definition of 'money raised'.
There was a loan properly reported by Watson at the same time as the one by Madison, but the numbers from the Watson camp include neither Darrell's loan nor Carla's. If they had, that would again put Watson in the lead.

3) Watson did win the monthly battle, and he led it considerably.
As stated above, Madison's numbers are padded by 10,000 that was loaned in February. Watson's March fund raising was larger than both of his opponents combined. To characterize the accurate reporting of this as a 'misstep' is a huge reward to the Madison campaign for their confusing bookkeeping.

4) It is not clear that there was a 'gift' from Madison to her own campaign. Maybe at some point she intends to 'gift' that money, but she has restated financial forms a couple of times in the past, so I know that she knows the proper way to do that would be to file an addendum to her February form and not to add a new February 'donation' to the bottom of her March form.
That this 'gift' was not a gift at all is still evidenced by her reporting it as a 'loan' on her March Form D.

Before going to press saying that the Watson campaign had 'mangled the facts' you should have called the campaign and seen what the facts were. I hope you take steps to correct your over hasty accusation.

I don't think that Carla intentionally is fudging her numbers. I am not an accountant, and I frankly find the forms highly confusing, particularly around the proper accounting of debts in the campaign, so maybe I am the one who is misreading.
I think her campaign was just doing its best to comply with the often ambiguous regulations. Her accounting is no worse, and somewhat better, than that done by many of the candidates this cycle, but I think that you are being unfair devoting a post to attacking Darrell for being 'Clintonian' when the very simple truth is that people donated thousands more to his campaign than people donated to Carla's.

I am not an official spokesman for the campaign, and I will not be following this thread.
Anything further on this should be directed to Wanda James at Darrell Watson's campaign; 303-388-8797

Carla For Council said...

I was going to dismiss Watson’s campaign’s numbers, but I must respond to this letter by the “unofficial spokesman”. They also fudged the number last month when they did not include her loan. Twice makes it a habit.

Watson’s total received during this election cycle is 31,554.91.
Carla has raised $26, 358.91.
This is not “padding”. This is the truth.

Even more important is that Watson has $16.504.18 available. Carla has $15,507.18.
This is not “padding”. This is the truth.

We are running a very cost effective campaign. She insists on it because she wants to demonstrate that she will be a careful steward of Denver’s budget. She has no paid staff. All of us volunteer because we believe in her as by far the best candidate. Many volunteer for Carla simply because they know the other candidates. We simply need less money to wage an effective campaign.

Clearly Watson’s campaign is having trouble reporting even elementary information. I quote “Wedgeworth is our current representative, but is unable to run again due to term limits.” Were you not aware that Elbra resigned?

You are correct in saying that Watson did not include Carla’s February $10,000 loan, but he did include contributions from Darrell and his partner.

Carla loaned her campaign money because she did not feel she should ‘buy’ her way into office and that if the residents of District 8 wanted her to be elected, the contributions would come. And she has been correct.

Also important to note is that Carla did not seek endorsements from PACs or special interest groups because she insists that she will not be beholden to any organization other than the residents of District 8 when elected.

What is absolutely the most disturbing is where Watson’s money is coming from.

This reporting period, Watson received only twelve donations by residents of District 8 totaling $1166 and one business totaling $1000.

Out of the City and County of Denver:
23 contributions totaling $7098

Out of the State of Colorado:
15 contributions totaling $3850

Special Interest Groups:

At least Carla knows whom she represents.

Paul Weiss
Committee to Elect Carla Madison

Heydave said...

I think that the blog entry about Darrell Watson is meanspirited and every bit as misleading as its author claims Darrell's press release was. A $10,000 loan from a candidate to herself is not a contribution. And excluding "gifts in kind" in order to be able to attack the "over $19K" statement is itself deceptive. I don't know who pens "Denver Politics" but his or her bias is showing. What a nasty piece of business, shame on you.

Dave Burrell said...

The $10k loan was registered under Form A, which represents campaign contributions.

The "gifts in kind" does not show up under the same form, and thus is not officially included as a "contribution."

Did you even look at the forms and statements, or did you just decide to attack?

As for bias, I have never met Mr Watson and have no bias against him. Indeed, I was initially inclined to support him or Ms Madison. But his disingenuous statements (which have been repeated by the candidate himself in videotaped interviews) suggest he's not quite ready for prime time.

I find it interesting that you attack the blog under the psuedonym heydave, which just so happens to be the name of the blog owner. And yet you claim not to know who the blogger was.

Who's mean-spirited and attacking? Not me. I'm just putting the information out there... ALL of the information, including my name and how exactly these statements are reasonable.

If only we could expect the same from you and other folks in the Watson campaign.