(For the full transcript, click here.)
The 174-page Meredith O'Rourke deposition explores Sam Brownback's relationship with Triad Management Services, a consulting firm headed by Carolyn Malenick. It is now a declassified public document, available in hardcopy by request from the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs.
The full transcript names names, dates, locations, and details. The excerpts and explanations below are my attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff, to identify the parts that some think should have initiated a more aggressive investigation, but instead got the project dropped like a hot potato.
Note: To understand this document, it helps to read the series of articles headed Ethics and Character. Then come back here.
Feel free to print this out and give it to any Brownbackers you know.
Also see Judge Robertson's 2003 opinion on this case.
Here's Ms. O'Rourke's description of Triad Management Services. The word "invest" is interesting, in the context of campaign contributions:
Yet the witness can't really remember any other funding sources:
This looks not so much like a real business, but more like some kind of ad hoc committee. A committee to do what? Read on.
Here is a discussion of "maxed-out contributors" -- those who had already hit their legal limit of annual contributions to a particular candidate:
This is important to understanding later revelations:
This is also important -- Ms. O'Rourke told the committee that records were kept, yet apparently this committee never subpoenaed them:
And the committee never called any of the other named Triad employees and associates to testify, either. They just shut down the investigation... which is incredible, considering what follows.
Ms. O'Rourke got lists of contributors from Sam Brownback and his finance director, George Stafford:
Ms. O'Rourke met three times with Sam in person, acting as an agent of Triad, not on her own time or initiative:
At the request of her Triad boss Carolyn Malenick, who called all the shots, Ms. O'Rourke actively helped Brownback raise funds, the two of them -- Sam and Ms. O'Rourke -- working closely as a team:
Apparently this was Triad's friendly in-kind contribution of Ms. O'Rourke's professional time to Sam's campaign, not Sam helping Triad raise PAC funds, because it appears they were calling from Sam's contributor list:
Besides the three in-person meetings, Ms. O'Rourke talked with Sam's campaign on the phone a lot to obtain names of clients for Triad to solicit. The questioner apparently wondered whether Sam's in-laws, the Stauffers, were among the names so passed to Triad, but the witness's lawyer put a lid on that:
But she did get a list of names from Sam:
Along with the list, Sam provided a key qualifier for these potential donors:
Triad then advised these carefully selected clients as to which PACs to contribute to:
Sometimes, clients would simply leave it up to Triad to choose the PACs that would receive their contributions:
The breakfast that Triad attended was an event arranged for Brownback to thank some of his contributors -- who, not incidentally, were also Triad clients:
This is important: Two prominent PACs to whom Triad directed contributions were nonprofit corporations, namely Citizens for Reform and Citizens for the Republic Education Fund. Below, Ms. O'Rourke makes special mention of their nonprofit status. She seems almost not to be very familiar with the CREF until the questioner reminds her that she had been the PAC's treasurer when they applied for 501(c)(4) status (nonprofit):
CREF's purpose, as understood from the beginning by Ms. O'Rourke:
Groups running so-called "issue comparison" ads, of course, don't have to reveal their donors, and are therefore considered a clever way to skirt campaign finance contribution laws, unless what they're doing actually is just "issue comparison."
So what did Triad, CR, and CREF consider "issue comparison"? See for yourself:
Of course, if a contributor had "maxed out" on one candidate and made further contributions in support of a group running "issue comparison" ads, for the additional contributions to be legal the donor must not be trying to direct those funds toward the election or defeat of that same candidate. So, keeping in mind what these PACs and Triad consider "issues," consider this further revelation about Triad's pitch to potential donors:
...By which Ms. O'Rourke probably means "Candidates whose congressional districts fell in those media markets." But one can understand the confusion.
Apparently Triad had a name for all this:
If you want to read the entire text of the O'Rourke deposition, here it is.