October 04, 2006
Cantwell advisor: political contributions are a "necessary business expense"

During the same period that Cantwell advisor Ron Dotzauer was found in contempt (even jailed briefly) for failing to meet his financial obligations to his ex-wife and daughter, having his earnings garnisheed to satisfy other debts, and borrowing money from Maria Cantwell, he was also making tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions. (see here, here, here and here)

How could he justify making political contributions while courts found him in default on his debts? In his November 1994 divorce trial brief, he called political contributions a "necessary business expense":

I'm not qualified to say whether or not this was illegal, but will note the similarities with certain cases where regulators found significant campaign finance violations, e.g. here and here.

Posted by Stefan Sharkansky at October 04, 2006 04:11 PM | Email This
1. I am not a lawyer but that sure sounds to me like they are admitting that the business is reimbursing an employee to make a political contribution solely to get around the law.

Posted by: Steve on October 4, 2006 04:19 PM
2. Here's the applicable law being violated; Title 2, Chapter 14, Subchapter 1, ss. 441b(a).


Basically, if you are a corporation, bank, or labor union, NO corporate money can be used for contributions or expenditures in elections.

And the Court has supplied the proof of violation of Federal law.

Nice job, Stefan!

Posted by: Quid Pro Quo on October 4, 2006 04:31 PM
3. Sounds like NWS should have become a sole proprietorship.

There are shadier things going on, too. I am going to sleep on one of them and maybe pass the results on privately.

Posted by: swatter on October 4, 2006 04:35 PM
4. Wow! Let's see how the mainstream press is covering this.
(fat guy in third row coughs nervously)

Ok...looks like more Emmys for KOMO KING KIRO and KCPQ!

Posted by: Mumblix Grumph on October 4, 2006 04:45 PM
5. What was the law in 1994, though?

Posted by: ScottM on October 4, 2006 04:46 PM
6. Interesting look at his campaign contributions. Does Maria know he was fooling around on her on the side with Slade Gorton?

"Honest honey, I didn't know he was a Republican..."

Posted by: rbb on October 4, 2006 04:54 PM
7. If anything comes of this we should see the end of Ron Dotzauer on the evening news pretending to be the non party affiliated expert. Perhaps he can disappear into the woodwork, never to be heard or seen again.

Posted by: Old Sgt on October 4, 2006 05:03 PM
8. Is this an "own goal?"

Posted by: Me on October 4, 2006 05:13 PM
9. is that a copy from the divorce file, or from never sealed records?????

Posted by: fRED on October 4, 2006 05:46 PM
10. I'm sure you all will apply the same guilt by association standards to Bush as you fo to Cantwell.

Posted by: Giffy on October 4, 2006 06:05 PM
11. You know, Stefan, it's one thing to go after people who are running for office, and another altogether to practice the politics of personal destruction on someone who is not and has no intention of being a public figure. In addition to being reprehensible, it also opens you up for substantial civil liability in a way that going after candidates and elected officials doesn't.

There would be a certain deliciousness in Dotzauer paying off his loan with the proceeds from a libel suit against you, though.

Posted by: Fred on October 4, 2006 06:05 PM
12. Personal campaign contributions are permitted in federal elections, as are Pac contribs. Businesses and corporations and individuals may donate contributions to state elections and candidates.

If Dotzauer claimed, through this deposition that contributions were a necessary part of his business, and this required a source of income, no problem. Some tax advisors will actually suggest tax DEDUCTIONS for certain political contributions. Attempts to relate this to illegal contributions (ie corporate or business contribs to federal candidates or business reimbursements to individuals for their "personal" donations) is a totally different ball of wax.

Get it?

Posted by: Sammy on October 4, 2006 06:09 PM
13. Well Fred, I guess the discovery phase of any trial would show the ultimate defense for any libel charge..that would be the truth. I am guessing since he moved to reseal with such speed that there is much more to be uncovered involving the Senator. Probably some unsavory financial deals that would interest the IRS as well.

To hear you make these claims with such an indignate tone makes me wonder how many blogs you have visted to libel.

Posted by: Huh? on October 4, 2006 06:14 PM
14. Fred

Ever been over to HA, it is ran by an admitted terrorist. Should we call the FBI?


I would hope that my exhusband would not make political contributions and try to reduce my daughters livihood, just so he could get someone elected or get the "business" of the politician.

These are the types of people whom Cantwell associates herself with.

Posted by: Chris on October 4, 2006 06:25 PM
15. Stefan, any chance that loan Cantwell gave Dotzauer was for him to make contributions to campaigns, you know, since that was a part of his responsibilities? Is there any way to track how he spent that money?

Posted by: Patrick on October 4, 2006 07:04 PM
16. How do you spell "Quid Pro Quo" Looks like one cozy arrangement.

Campaign contributions from Dotzauer to Cantwell

Loans (maybe never paid back?) from Cantwell to Dotzauer

Need not say more!

Posted by: GS on October 4, 2006 07:11 PM
17. So lets see GS, Cantwell Loans 50k of her own money, which she can spend at will on her campaign, in exchange for donations from Dotzauer, which are limited to $2000 per year. Thats one hell of a scam. Hell in 25 years she would possibly turn a profit.

Posted by: Giffy on October 4, 2006 07:30 PM
18. "Fred": [Dotzauer] has no intention of being a public figure

And how do know what Dotzauer's intention is? What's your relationship to Dotzauer?

Whether he actually is a public figure is a fair question. I think given his publicized relationship with Senator Cantwell, he is a public figure in the context of the Senate race. And given that he has recently been interviewed on the evening news as an expert on campaign finance ethics, I think his own record of campaign contributions might be fair game for public discussion.

Now as far as your unfounded suggestion of "libel" -- Since when is quoting from court filings libel? What exactly have I published here that is not true?

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on October 4, 2006 07:58 PM
19. It's funny to watch the attitude of trolls here when their girl is caught. Oh yah, we Dems should get MAXIMUM coverage of any thing remotely negative, like a phoneyed-up purely political lawsuit against mcGavick, but when stuff comes up on Democrat Senators mixing their sex life and their political favors (he's a lobbyist trying to get favors from her, yes) then all of a sudden "oh no, you shouldn't be talking about any of this. Why? Because they are democrats and we are used to the MSM covering these things up for us while publicizing McGavick's phoney lawsuit."

Just stop the double standard, trolls. It is what it is.

Posted by: Dems, deal with it on October 4, 2006 08:12 PM
20. The MSM will not pick this up because there is no story related to Cantwell. The MSM is responsible enough to not poke into the private lives of advisers. If Cantwell had done these things, conceivably (but doubtfully) they would be relevant to her character. But she didn't.

Someday perhaps Stefan (who I hope never has a divorce analyzed in the media) will address the question of how this is relevant to Cantwell. But I won't hold my breath.

Posted by: Bruce on October 4, 2006 08:23 PM
21. "The MSM is responsible enough to not poke into the private lives of Dhimmicrats"

Now it makes sense ;'}

Posted by: alphabet soup on October 4, 2006 08:52 PM
22. Dotzhauer is absolutely f*cked.
Either the IRS, his ex-wife, illegal campaign contributions....
something has to give for this poor bastard.
Keep the pressure on Ron.
Either he takes the fall himself...or drags Maria down to save his own a$$.
I wonder how the MANY WIVES OF DOTZAUER feel about these cheeseball???
I don't see how Dotzauer will save himself this time. Tax issues, child support issues, gifts, illegal donations....what a disaster!
Do you think Ron reads SOUNDPOLITICS???
I sure hope so.
Have a good nights sleep Ron you slimey SOB!!!!!

Posted by: dude on October 4, 2006 09:00 PM
23. If it were McGavick instead of Cantwell here, the MSM would be all over it and the liberal blogs would be having a field day.

This spells out Double standard - what does this story have to do to get legs ? Dotzhauer is a scumbag and Cantwell associates with him (more than that on a number of occasions) and is OK with it. Therefore.......

Posted by: KS on October 4, 2006 09:40 PM
24. KS, has the MSM said a word about McGavick's advisers?

I'm not saying his advisers have any skeletons in their closets. I don't even know who his advisers are. That's precisely my point -- this stuff just isn't relevant. The voters feel that way, and so does the MSM.

You write, "If it were McGavick instead of Cantwell here, the MSM would be all over it." Guess what? It isn't McGavick here. It's not Cantwell, either.

Posted by: Bruce on October 4, 2006 10:07 PM
25. What is your point, Stefan? What standard would you hold Tom Stewart to? Don't know who he is? Use your sluething skills to uncover that mess and then let us know if you think Dotzauer's PAYING OF HIMSELF is at all relevant. Stewart was a sleezeball law breaker of the highest order. In fact he was nailed with the largest FEC fine in history, right here in little old Seattle. Ron? Guilty of having a messy love life. Stefan, how do explain your work to your kids? "I snooped into someone's divorce file so that I could try to bail out an inept Senate campaign. No that someone wasn't running. He was a friend of a Senator I don't like. No, she didn't do anything wrong. It's just that, well, I'd do anything and say anything to keep the Republicans in power and our troops in Iraq"

You should be ashamed of yourself.

Posted by: Bluneck on October 4, 2006 10:11 PM
26. ...Ron? Guilty of having a messy love life...

And possibly funneling illegal campaign contributions. And possibly having taxpayer money funneled his way by his boss/one time lover/senator in order to pay off said boss/one time lover/senator a rather large amount of money owed her.

...No, she didn't do anything wrong...

Well, other than sleeping with the guy a week before he was to get married to someone else while she was in public office. And possibly funneling taxpayer money to the before mentioned lover, who is also a debtor, in order to possibly get back the money owed her.

Posted by: Mike H on October 4, 2006 10:59 PM
27. The MSM's here,

See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak much evil :)

Posted by: GS on October 4, 2006 11:17 PM
28. who is not and has no intention of being a public figure.

I have a hard time thinking of a professional lobbyist as anything other than a public figure. Dotzauer has engaged in a number of activities which are not consistent with remaining out of the public eye, not the least of which is selling his services directing the flow of that same public's funds.

Posted by: Dishman on October 5, 2006 12:25 AM
29. Bruce at 24 above. We all understand that willful avoidance is the issue of the day among Maria followers but let's suspend the delusion of the willing for a second, please.

The circumstantial case that Maria's loan to Ron Dotzauer was for the purpose of paying to quiet his wife could not be stronger, and is certainly stronger than any similar case leveled against Republican candidates in the past. (Quick do a google search of Republican and hush money).

A US Senator that routinely seeks to pay hush money to quiet critics and potential troublemakers is not only news it is highly relevant and of legitimate public interest. The idea, leveled by one dunce above, that Stefan is courting a libel suit is absurd (clearly not the opinion of a lawyer).

That Maria has chosen to mingle her social and business lives so closely with an individual who makes much of his income off his association with her, a man who literally took her from nothing and used his influence to establish her politically, and who in the course of a divorce brought about by Cantwell's direct conduct (see testimony of his wife) of engaging in sexual relations with Dotzauer, ties Dotzauer's lobbying indiscretions directly to Cantwell. She is the one who tied her finances and personal life to him and his business. She is the one who interfered in his relationship with his wife to such a Jerry Springer degree it brought about a divorce that forced him to seek additional income for campaign contributions from clients wanting favors from Cantwell. The circle of inappropriate conduct by Maria and money funnelled to Dotzauer couldn't be clearer.

Simply putting energy into wishing Cantwell a decent member of society will not make her so. Nor more than wishing away her improper business and sexual relations with Dotzauer.

Posted by: Weddings by Maria on October 5, 2006 12:33 AM
30. WOW Stefan.........

Buddy you must be doing a great job.
The Dem's are really pissed this time.
Me thinks you may have opened a very painful scab.

Keep up the great work.

Posted by: Army Medic/Vet on October 5, 2006 06:29 AM
31. $50,000 to Ron Dotzauer to keep quiet. $8,000/month to Mark Wilson to keep quiet (drop his campaign and disappear). See a pattern here.

It is said we all have our price; I see that the Dem's price is pretty low. Especially since they're spending other people's money.

Posted by: Obi-Wan on October 5, 2006 06:37 AM
32. Sammy at #12: "Some tax advisors will actually suggest tax DEDUCTIONS for certain political contributions."

You cannot claim political contributions as DEDUCTIONS from your taxes. It's black and white. Not allowed. Whatever tax advisors that suggest that are crooks.

Furthermore, corporations cannot use/force their employees to make contributions to federal candidates. Contributions must be voluntary and personal (from a qualified individual.)

Get it?

Posted by: IRS 101 on October 5, 2006 06:48 AM
33. Bruce, it was only a few months ago that the press went after McGavick for hiring a "negative" ad type of guy.

A lobbyist is fair game since that lobbyist has to file reports.

And Sammy, giving money to a politician in exchange for special favors (albeit access) is corruption, pure and simple.

I've seen contributions to candidates in the list that were later repaid 20-fold for "work" on the campaign. Smells like a rotten fish to me.

Posted by: swatter on October 5, 2006 07:03 AM
34. "Stefan, how do explain your work to your kids?"

Easy, Bluenek 25--it's called "search for the truth" and "analytical thinking"--a skill lost on most of our citizens and certainly NOT properly taught in today's schools and universities. many in the populace are lazy or hold their ears shouting "la la la". even good scientists are sometimes disappointed at the truth they find in place of their desired results.

facts and situations cut both ways--both good & bad and sometimes both good & bad concurrently. do you blindly trust the MSM to give you the whole picture? i certainly don't.

again, i repeat--public figures (AND those that influence them) should be scrutinized if for any other reason that we entrust them with our powers and they affect our lives. to ignore them & their actions is grossly irresponsible--and i suspect even a well-meaning liberal wants to feel responsible.

you may not care for Stefan's research or style, but I think it's been a valuable asset for those who want to be well informed and use many sources, not solely the "balanced" MSM.

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on October 5, 2006 10:17 AM
35. Bruce @20 & 24 -

First, Dotzauer is not a Cantwell advisor, he is a lobbyist. Advisors are paid staffers, whereas lobbyists pay (in the form of campaign contributions). That's why there are laws that require lobbyists to file reports about their contributions, and otherwise govern their interactions with office-holders.

If violations of those laws occur, it is newsworthy, and the MSM has a responsibility to report it.

Second, even if Dotzauer was an advisor, he is employed to advise an office-holder/-seeker, who is a public person. If an advisor has "skeletons in his closet", the public has a right to know, as this conduct may color the advice he is giving his employer, or call into question the employer's judgment. Both are valid concerns when deciding which candidate to vote for.

Third, if one candidate has no advisor issues, there is nothing for the MSM to report, and thus no news. If the other candidate has advisor issues, but the MSM refuses to report on them because it wants to protect him, there is also no news, but the public has been deceived.

Finally, this is about Cantwell, because it bears on her judgment (for entangling herself with a lobbyist with whom she also has a deep personal relationship), and raises questions about possible improper dealings with a lobbyist, and possible payment of hush-money to a lover's ex-wife.

Posted by: ewaggin on October 5, 2006 01:17 PM
36. So, is anyone denying the allegations? Is the entire defense that:

As long as the record is kept sealed, it's okay to circumvent court ordered family and child support payments since the money was used to pay illegal campaign contributions toward the election of a sexual partner.

Or as Maria Cantwell might describe it, she was given money and then she had sex with the person giving the money.

Posted by: Elaine on October 5, 2006 10:02 PM
Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember info?