While she didn’t generate as much national attention as some of her more radical colleagues, there’s another female freshman congressional Democrat who is in the news this week for all the wrong reasons. It’s congresswoman Lori Trahan (MA-3), and the Boston Globe has been asking impertinent questions about her campaign finance situation ever since her surprise primary win last year. As they tell the story, Trahan was running a shoestring campaign in a fairly crowded primary field and doing poorly. Shortly before the September primary, one poll had her in fourth place.
Then, seemingly out of nowhere, she had a huge cash infusion of more than $370K. That allowed her to vastly up her television advertising game and catch the attention of voters. A short time later she snuck through for the win by a margin of barely 100 votes. The question the press wanted to know was… where did all that money come from at the eleventh hour? Her explanations (multiple) to date have left reporters scratching their heads.
In the closing days of the race, she overtook her rivals, beating second-place finisher Dan Koh by just 122 votes, then going on to easily defeat the Republican candidate in November.
But where did the money for the 11th-hour advertising spree come from?
Trahan has offered vague and conflicting explanations, claiming she tapped personal funds to loan the campaign $371,000 in 2018. However, the financial disclosures Trahan filed during the summer show she didn’t have anywhere near enough money to cover such big loans…
Those “vague and conflicting” stories are setting off alarm bells. Being able to write a check for $371K to your campaign is a huge advantage, but there are still rules governing how you can do it. First of all, her personal finance statements indicated that her largest cash assets consisted primarily of a joint bank account she shared with her husband and it was worth less than $15k. After the paper began asking questions, she amended her financial reports four times. She claimed there was a home equity loan with $71K in it, but the totals still fell far short of the massive check she wrote.
But her husband is a different story. He’s reportedly been a very successful businessman in home construction. So no problem, right? Wrong. If his assets weren’t listed in her financial statements and his money was held in accounts either under the name of his business or solely in his own name, then he would have had to transfer the funds over to her. That makes it a campaign contribution (yes, even from your spouse) and those can’t exceed $2,700.
Trahan continues to insist that she’s complied with all FEC rules, and perhaps she has. But she’s going to need to do a better job of proving it than this.
As a side note, while I give the Boston Globe full credit for digging into this story and covering it, check out the way they choose to describe the people involved, particularly Trahan. The word “Democrat(s)” appears precisely once in that lengthy article, referencing how she defeated her fellow Democrats in the primary. There’s only one other reference – noting how she easily beat her Republican opponent in the general election – that would give you any idea which party she’s with. Maybe it’s just me, but when I read a story about a Republican involved in some sort of scandal, it seems like the party affiliation is usually in the title and then two or three times in the lead paragraph.
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