Campaign Finance Cheater Loses Reading Council Seat

Steve Fuhs, failed candidate for the State Senate last year and fan of right wing Republican talking points, lost his City Council seat in Reading last week.  We’ll miss Mr. Fuhs’ ridiculous and extreme stands on Council but mostly his atrociously reported campaign finance reports.  The man seems incapable of running a legal political campaign.  When Fuhs ran for the Senate against Sen. Mike O’Pake in 2008 he received $30,000 from an anonymous contributor.  At least Tom Nordhoy, President of Strategic Reports Inc. was anonymous prior to the election.

The entire purpose of campaign finance law is to require openness so voters can determine to whom a candidate is indebted.  It does help to know who owns each of our lawmakers so we can understand whom they are screwing.  Steve Fuhs failed to file his campaign finance report due the second Friday before the election however.  When I discovered his yard signs had been for by Strategic Reports Incorporated I published this serious breach of the law.  Corporations are not allowed to make direct contributions to candidates.  They can create political action committees (PAC’s) and contribute however.  

Fuhs finally filed his report AFTER the election and disclosed the $30,000 contribution as being from a mysterious PAC called Berks Business Executives for Accountable Government.  The problem then was that there was no such PAC registered in Pennsylvania.  Another serious violation and another blatant attempt to hide from voters the true source of his campaign cash.  Thirty grand is a hefty sum and it financed almost all of Fuhs’ campaign.  Well, not all.  It seems Steve Fuhs didn’t report all of what Tom Nordhoy did for him in that campaign.  Once the owner of Strategic Reports got around to filing his PAC report he revealed another $4000 provided to the Fuhs campaign for radio advertisements and robo calls.

Fuhs has never reported that $4000 in “in kind” contributions as required by law.  That entire Senate campaign was riddled with egregious legal failings for the sole purpose of hiding critical information from voters in violation of law.  Exactly who is Tom Nordhoy?  Fuhs’ boss.  Steve Fuhs is the only recipient of contributions from Berks Business Executives For Accountable Government and Nordhoy its sole benefactor.  It is a sham PAC designed to violate the public trust.

The Pennsylvania Department of State slapped Steve Fuhs on the wrist and this is a great example of why we need serious reform in the matter of campaign finance law.  The penalties for such egregious misbehavior should be banishment from running for political office ever again.  This amount of fraud should be felonious.  Fortunately the people of Reading evicted him from his Council seat last week.  Have we heard the last from this political extremist?  I fear not which is why I’m publishing this complete list of his horrid disregard for the law.  No one who willfully violates the law and willfully deceives the voters deserves to sit in public service.

Campaign Finance Law

The new campaign season is upon us already.  Nominating petitions are being distributed, signatures acquired and petition parties in abundance.  Many people running for office are doing so for the first time and may not be aware of campaign reporting law.  The Commonwealth has a phamphlet available outlining the law and it is available here as a downloadable pdf file.  Get familiar with these laws because they can cause you significant legal expenses should you be caught in violation.  All campaign finance reports are public documents and anyone may examine them either at the state website or at their county office of election services.

I am reminded of this because a friend has been perusing the reports filed by a Lehigh County school board member and brought them to my attention.  They are filled with errors and violations but I will allow him to reveal the specifics.  Needless to say I am shocked by the young man who filed these because he seems to feel he is allowed to use his campaign contributions for personal expenses and in any way he sees fit.  That is illegal.  There are definitive restrictions on the use of campaign contributions.

I also bring this up because a State Senate candidate last year, Steve Fuhs (Berks-11) violated campaign finance law more than any candidate I have ever seen.  He accepted $30,000 in contributions from a political action committee that didn’t register with the Commonwealth until January 2009 for an election in 2008.  To this day I cannot access any information online about Berks Business Executives for Accountabilty #6 Govt, the name of the PAC.  They raised $30,000 for Mr. Fuhs, a former Secret Service agent who should know better, and no one yet knows from whom those funds came.

This is a gross violation of campaign finance law and, as yet, Pedro Cortes’ office has yet to do anything about the legal violations.  Tom Corbett where are you?  Oh yes, Fuhs is a Republican so our Attorney General will, again, ignore the legal transgressions of a fellow Republican.  Pennsylvania law requires a political committee to file with the Secretary of State within 20 days of receiving at least $250 in contributions.  Failure to do so means the candidate cannot accept any monies from the entity.  Steve Fuhs must be required to return $30,000 to this PAC.

The purpose of campaign finance reporting is to reveal to voters who is supporting a candidate financially.  Fuhs failed to file his second Friday before the election report until after the election.  Voters remain uninformed online as to whom donated the $30,000 used for his failed Senate candidacy.  This is an outrage.

Another issue is campaign termination reports.  The law requires there be no funds or debts remaining in an account when it is terminated.  Julian Stolz, the East Penn School Board member attempted to close his campaign account with $1700 remaining.  He used $100 of that to illegally (you cannot use funds in a state account to donate to a federal candidate) contribute to Fred Thompson’s presidential campaign.  This was a violation of federal campaign finance law.  I doubt Stolz’ committee was filed with the FEC as would have been required.  Still, there are laws about mixing state and federal campaign accounts.  He then withdrew the remaining $1600 for his own use and closed the account though he remains a sitting member of the school board.  He has also failed to file reports that were legally notarized and signed.

Campaign finance funds can only be used to influence the outcome of an election.  You cannot use them for automobile repairs, for example, clothing or any other personal use.  You also must keep records of any expenditure over $25.  Mr. Stolz claims he has no such records.  The law also requires any candidate to file an affadavit stating he will not raise or expend more than $250 in a reporting period without an established campaign committee.  It also requires the keeping of records.

It behooves every candidate for office to familiarize themselves with the law and seek counsel concerning any aspects of which they may not fully understand.  Taking remaining campaign funds for anything you wish to use them for is a gross violation of the law and may be prosecuted.  My advice to my friend Mr. Stolz is that he consult an election law attorney before making any further statements regarding his campaign finance reports.

GOP State Senate Candidate Violates Election Law

The Republican candidate for the 11th State Senate seat held by Mike O’Pake has scattered Berks County with illegal campaign signs.  Steve Fuhs is prohibited by law from accepting campaign contributions from corporations.  Why then do these Fuhs signs say “Paid for by Strategic Reports, Inc?”

He even printed the “Inc.” on the signs!

A close up shot of the disclosure:

There are no disbursements on Fuhs’ campaign finance disclosure reports to such a company so this constitutes an illegal corporate campaign contribution.  Even had the Republican candidate paid Strategic Reports to print the signs this would be illegal because the entire idea of disclosure laws is to educate voters as to who is paying for political signs, fliers, etc.  

This was either a blatant attempt by Steve Fuhs to keep from telling voters these are his signs, paid for by his campaign or it is a blatant violation of state campaign finance law.  Both tell us enough about Steve Fuhs though.