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Unity08’s Disclosed Donations 96% Unclean in May 2007

Since its inception, Unity08 has defined itself as a “grassroots” “people’s movement.” On January 9, 2007, Unity08 defined itself by its “Clean Money Pledge” and its fiery public statement about special interest money in politics:

Unity08 sent a letter the week of December 25 to every possible or likely presidential candidate informing them of this new campaign and asking them to commit now to adopting this self-imposed limit and generate more than half of their total contributions in small, $250 increments or less.

“Unity08’s battle to transform American politics begins in earnest today,” said Unity08 founders council member Doug Bailey. “Americans are sick and tired of power in Washington built on lobbyist money and special interests, and of candidates paying lip service to the problem without actually doing something about it.

[emphases added]

Is Unity08 really “grassroots?” Is its money, by its own standards, “clean”?

This morning, Unity08 provided another month’s update of its limited version of campaign contribution data, three days late. These data appear to be for the month of May 2007 if Unity08 is keeping its records correctly, although time has shown we cannot depend on that. We will have to wait until later this month, when the six-month report required by the IRS in odd-numbered years is released, to verify what are typically error-ridden data. Until then, we’ll just have to go with what we have: disclosures without employer or professional data, and only for those contributing $200 or more.

Taking the additions to its list made yesterday by Unity08, it appears that during the month of April 2007, Unity08 received 25 donations of $200 or more, with the following distribution of donors:

10 contributions of $5,000 = $50,000
3 contribution of $1,000 = $3,000
2 contributions of $500 = $1,000
10 contributions of $200 = $2,000

Look at who the people donating $5,000 were:

Don Ackerman, Boca Raton FL
Peter Ackerman, Arlington VA
John Akridge, Arlington VA
Merilee Bostock, Rye NY
Alfred Checchi, Arlington VA
Leo Daly, Arlington VA
Dennis and Lauren Garcia, Arlington VA
Toni Goodale, Arlington VA
Joanne Leedon Ackerman, Arlington VA
Herbert Miller, Washington DC

See any pattern there?

Of those disclosed donations of $200 or more, 96% of money donated therein would be designated by Unity08’s own standards as “unclean.” Now, it’s important to note that there were surely some donations of less than $200 that came in to Unity08 during the month of May 2007 — but in order for Unity08 to meet its own Clean Money Pledge, there would have had to have been at least 271 small donations coming in (assuming each was for $199 — if the donations were smaller, even more would have been needed.)

Since Unity08 withholds the information on employer and occupation that is necessary to complete full profiles of donating individuals, I’ll have to wait until Unity08 files its IRS report in the middle of July before doing a more thorough analysis. Fortunately, that time is coming soon. Do you think we’ll find that 271 or more people gave less than $200 during the month of May — or do you think that Unity08 will, yet again, fail its own Clean Money Pledge?

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