Does Republicans For Choice PAC Actually Support Any Republicans For Choice?


The Center for Public Integrity has very interesting report
on the Republicans For Choice PAC. According to their research most of the
money raised by the PAC has gone to two companies controlled by the PAC’s founder
and chairwoman Ann E. W. Stone and very little to pro-choice Republican
candidates for office.

Since the PAC’s formation in 1990, documents show that
Republicans for Choice has raised and spent more than $5.5 million. But a
Center for Public Integrity analysis of the PAC’s more recent filings – along
with data from CQ MoneyLine, which tracks political giving – reveals that over
the past decade less than five percent of the committee’s spending has gone to
political candidates, other political committees, or independent expenditures.
Since 2005, just about one-half of one percent of the PAC’s nearly $1 million
in spending has gone to federal or state campaigns, according to a review of
records.

Center for Public Integrity researchers Josh Israel and
Aaron Mehta
found that instead of using funds to donate to the campaigns of
federal candidates —  the raison d’etre for
most PACs — most of the money raised by Republicans for Choice was paid out to
Ann Stone and to two firms owned by her, Capstone Lists, a direct-marketing company
and the Stone Group, a political consulting firm.

Dating back to the beginning of 2005, about 69 percent of
the $967,108 spent by the group has gone to those three entities. Both
companies and the PAC, along with the not-yet-built National Women’s History
Museum (Stone is senior vice president), share space in an Alexandria office
building. Though the four entities list different suite numbers on
correspondence, filings, and the building’s occupant directory, the four Stone
groups share a second-floor office with a door marked "250-260."

Republicans for Choice pays thousands of dollars each
year for office, equipment, and list rental to Capstone Lists. The Stone
Group’s services are retained for the PAC’s accounting, mailing production, and
website updates (though www.republicansforchoice.com contains numerous
out-of-date and under construction pages).

Stone herself received nearly $250,000 since the start of
2001 as reimbursements for her "travel and entertainment," "automobile
maintenance repairs," phone, tires, gasoline, and various other expenses.

Expenses
that apparently included covering Stone’s parking tickets in Alexandria, Va and
Washington, DC, which Stone at least says she didn’t attempt to hide in
expense reports.

Stone
defends the PAC’s expenditures saying that because, unlike other PACs, they
have with no affiliated non-profit organization so RFC PAC has to cover all
administrative functions giving them a higher overhead than other PACs, "which distorts
the percentages of how our money is spent under our reporting," she is quoted
as saying
.

Joseph Birkenstock, a former chief counsel to the
Democratic National Committee and an attorney at Caplin & Drysdale, told
the Center that political action committees often have high overhead for their
first few years and that there is no set "best practice." But, after more than
18 years of operation, "anything of this scale – [more than] two-thirds of
receipts going to overhead – certainly strikes me as a pretty large
percentage."

The
Center for Public Integrity points out that if supporting a pro-choice agenda is the goal of the PAC some of its support to candidates seems rather lackluster. In 2006, for example, the RFC PAC highlighted seven
Republican incumbents that were in danger of losing reelection; Nancy Johnson, Deb Pryce, Sue Kelly, Chris Shays, Rob
Simmons, John Sweeney and Lincoln Chafee. The PAC could
have contributed up to $10,000 per candidate per cycle between the primary and
general elections, and had the money on hand, but only gave $1,000 to two of
the candidates. Five of the seven pro-choice Republicans lost their bid for
reelection, a fact that researchers Israel and Mehta, point out that
might have made a difference in the recent House healthcare reform fight.

The
Center for Public Integrity report’s doesn’t not say there was anything illegal in the RFC PAC’s
actions, but donors may want to consider whether they want to continue to contribute
to a PAC that seems to be channeling money back to its founder.

Calls
and emails to the office of Republicans For Choice PAC for comment on this
story were not returned by the time of publication.

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To schedule an interview with contact director of communications Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • ann-stone

    To start let me say that Rachel is right …she did call about 1pm but we have been tied up and did not get the message until after her 4pm deadline.  But let me also say that most of the facts in the original article are correct. Most but not all.

    The real problem however is in the conclusions and in the omissions of information by the author of the original article. They may say the omissions were to limit the length of the article but those omissions change the tone and perception of the "facts" they reported.

     First off, I made the original reporter well aware that our PAC was never primarily designed to support candidates by giving money. In fact I was clear with him that was a small part of what we were set up to do.

    If you go to our website http://www.repubicansforchoice.com you will read about our full mission…

    Our donors who were solicited knew that when they signed up. The donor they write about came to us unsolicited and clearly thought PAC=candidates. But that donor should also remember that he was surveyed regularly to find out what they thought our spending priorities should be.

    We have been very responsive to what our members have asked us to do. Shockingly funding candidates rates down the list at bottom or near bottom. We offered to share a sample of those letters with the authors of the original article.

    Further anyone who thinks I made money on this PAC did not read the article or does not understand FEC law.

    When you incur expenses for a PAC personally …you must be reimbursed for them…that is the law.

    The money RFC paid me was to reimburse me for money I paid out.. Like for our expenses at each national convention which between airfare, hotel for our staff and volunteers and other staff expenses I would have charges of thousands of dollars…

    By law I had to be reimbursed for or it would have been a violation of law. So did this "fund my lifestyle?" Hardly.

    And the silliness about the parking tickets and car repairs…if we got a ticket due to staying at a meeting downtown that had to do with RFC …RFC paid the ticket.  As for car repairs and such…I worked out a deal that RFC would pay for car repairs etc instead of mileage…which was much less paperwork and time consuming…and as I said in the article we could have hidden it away in an expense report but chose to have them pay it directly and disclose it.

    Sadly I will have to spend the next few days refuting much of the omissions and misinterpretation of facts in this article.

    Here is another example of a conclusion that was distorted. What the authors did not tell you is that the reason my firms were paid was two fold:

    1) When I started RFC no GOP firm would help us fundraise or organize for fear of retribution by the GOP. In fact there were a whole host of printers and list owners and others who we had dealt with at other times that would not work for us because of our stand on this issue. So rather than hire a Democratic firm (which also would have been a PR nightmare) my firm handled what we could not get others to do. Now that the Party has calmed down toward us recently maybe I could have bid the work out but since my firm was named as one of the top in the Nation by a vote of our peers, why settle for less with another firm? And we were able to do the work at a rate we would not have gotten outside…but still within the market norm as is required by law.

    2)The second reason is that to save costs starting in 2005 when our revenue started declining, we outsourced staff functions and project coordination to my firms because they could do their work, outside of what volunteers could handle, more cost effectively. I have great and experienced staff and it now allows me to be able to personally oversee RFC’s work and still do my other work.

    But when our firm orders printing or does computer work or designs literature or writes an ad script or does research, or records a radio ad they are required to bill RFC for that work and to be paid for it…or it is an illegal corporate contribution.

    In fact when we filed our first FEC report we had an audit almost immediately provoked by an FEC complaint from an anti choice group who was looking to have us nailed as having provided work or office space to RFC which would have been an illegal contribution so we were sensitive to this from the start.

    You may think we made bad decisions on how we organized the work we do by putting it all under the title PAC or disagree with how we spend our money but our work has had impact and has always been done according to the law.

    All of our expenses have always been out in the open for anyone to see.

    Further the authors did not detail the pages and pages of accomplishments we gave them nor the fact that during the lean times I personally lent or gave the PAC money to keep going to the extent I was allowed by law.

    No that would have messed up their storyline. Feel free to email me through the RFC website if you want to ask me any more questions…

  • ann-stone

    I only hope that those who posted the original article will also post my reply above that more fully explains the distortions and omissions of fact…thank you.

  • crowepps

    Obviously, yes, it does. It supports Ann E. W. Stone, and very nicely too! Her $250,000 a year puts her in the top 2% of income earners.

  • atdepth

    I just read Ann E W Stone’s first response to the article and my jaw hit the floor. I just can’t believe the circular logic Ms. Stone gives as to why it is OK the RFC “outsources” to her companies. And on top if it all she goes on to say it is disclosed because if they didn’t it would be a violation of the law. Ms. Stone also says; “I worked out a deal that RFC would pay for car repairs etc instead of mileage…,” as if there is some sort of disassociation between the RFC and Ms. Stone. All this to divert attention away from the fact that the RFC is really just a platform for channeling money into Ms. Stone’s bank account at the expense if those who she dupes into believing they are contributing to a worthy cause; a woman’s right to choose. Well done Ms. Stone quite the great scam you have going and way to manipulate and hide behind the system to line your pockets!

  • atdepth

    Also, the reimbursement rate for mileage includes the cost of gas as well as maintenance per mile driven. I believe the IRS currently allows fifty seven cents per mile. Do the math; .57*15mpg=8.55 per gallon far more than the price per gallon for even the most expensive premium gasoline. This is because that reimbursement rate is to cover gasoline and the proportional cost of maintenance. Thus this agreement between Ms. Stone and the RFC (herself) to pay for maintenance rather than reimburse for mileage is nonsense, she is using the RFC to maintain her vehicle. Ms. Stone keeps trying to pull the wool over everyones eyes but for those who can think for themselves and connect some dots it doesn’t work and she just doesn’t know what to do with that.