sort of like Jackie O cmmenting (sic) on a blog..

I was reading about Senator Kirk of Illinois. It’s a long and convoluted story:

Soon after Mark Kirk’s ex-wife announced she would no longer support his 2010 run for the U.S. Senate, he brought her onto his campaign team, then quietly paid her after his victory.
But Kimberly Vertolli, a lawyer who received $40,000 from the campaign, again is at odds with her ex-husband, filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Kirk and his then-girlfriend may have broken campaign finance law. The girlfriend, Dodie McCracken, who works in public relations, has acknowledged receiving more than $143,000 in fees and expenses for her campaign work.
A former live-in girlfriend, she is no longer romantically involved with Kirk, according to a campaign aide. Kirk’s campaign has characterized Vertolli as an aggrieved ex-wife and labeled “groundless” her complaint filed late last year about payments to McCracken.
At the heart of the matter is Vertolli’s assertion that the Kirk campaign may have improperly hidden money to McCracken by paying her through another company working for the campaign. Because the money was not paid directly to McCracken, her name does not appear in Kirk’s federal disclosures.

Kirk’s ex-wife, Vertolli, is alleging that Kirk broke campaign finance rules by paying his then-girlfriend through a separate entity without listing the payment. I haven’t been following campaign finance that long, but I’m not sure it’s possible to break campaign finance rules in the US, such as they are, so I think she should pursue something else. This might be a dead end.

Anyway. This next part is good. Vertolli was no longer Kirk’s wife at this point in the story, but he was (essentially) paying her so she would still support his candidacy:

Indeed, when Kirk announced his Senate bid in July 2009, Vertolli told reporters: “He’ll make a great senator.” But as the campaign advanced, he tried to contain Vertolli’s public remarks.

This was the deal-breaker for Kirk, in terms of employing his wife:

When she commented on a political blog — defending Kirk on issues related to his marriage and military service — Kirk emailed her.

The Jan. 5, 2010, email, which Vertolli gave to the Tribune, said:

hey, can I ask you to not post on the blogs? You have unique authority and power with our message, wasting it on the blogosphere is beneath you and me — there will be moments for you to comment but I would not add your name to a post — sort of like Jackie O cmmenting (sic) on a blog …

Wouldn’t it be great of that happened here? If a candidate or famous grifter had a spouse that commented? I’d like it to be Callista Gingrich, but that’s just me.






43 replies
  1. 1
    rlrr says:

    Yet another family values Republican…

  2. 2
    Kay says:

    @rlrr:

    I should specify that at the time he hired his then-girlfriend he and his wife were divorced.

    This was a post-divorce hiring.

  3. 3
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    Sounds a little like Kirk is following on the John Edwards plan to mix money, sex, and campaign politics, to end up a person of interest.

  4. 4
    Hunter Gathers says:

    Release the McCracken!

  5. 5
    aimai says:

    Yes, because a second string wife–who can be bought off for a mere 40,000, is exactly like the former most famous first lady in American history.

    aimai

  6. 6
  7. 7
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    Soon after Mark Kirk’s ex-wife announced she would no longer support his 2010 run for the U.S. Senate, he brought her onto his campaign team, then quietly paid her after his victory.

    If you were trying to make it sound like hush money, you couldn’t set it up much better.

    At the heart of the matter is Vertolli’s assertion that the Kirk campaign may have improperly hidden money to McCracken by paying her through another company working for the campaign. Because the money was not paid directly to McCracken, her name does not appear in Kirk’s federal disclosures.

    I don’t know campaign finance, and I haven’t followed the Edwards case, cause I really don’t give a fuck, but it sounds kind of similar to my layman’s ears.

    Needless to say if Kirk, the guy who lied about his military service and a lot of other stuff during his campaign, were a Democrat, this would be the lead story on CNN, and the VSPs would be calling for his resignation.

  8. 8
    Kay says:

    @Stuck in the Funhouse:

    It is! It’s very much like Edwards, except Kirk was divorced, so infidelity isn’t in there, although his ex says it was.

  9. 9
    dmsilev says:

    Meh. As Illinois political sex scandals go, this one doesn’t move the needle off zero. Compared to Joe “$100K deadbeat” Walsh or most especially Jack “Parisian sex clubs” Ryan, this is boring.

  10. 10
    Kay says:

    @aimai:

    Don’t you love how big his ego is? It’s either that or he was sucking up to her, terrified she was going to turn on him in the middle of the campaign.

  11. 11
    WJS says:

    wasting it on the blogosphere is beneath you

    Yet another masterful move from a classy Republican politician. These guys can’t shoot themselves in the foot fast enough.

  12. 12
    BGinCHI says:

    Great. Dodie McCracken stole my porn star name.

    Thanks Obama.

  13. 13
    Rafer Janders says:

    I haven’t been following campaign finance that long, but I’m not sure it’s possible to break campaign finance rules in the US, such as they are, so I think she should pursue something else. This might be a dead end.

    John Edwards would disagree.

  14. 14
    Sly says:

    “Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy…”

  15. 15
    Kay says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    I think you should wait and see the Edwards result :)

  16. 16
    SatanicPanic says:

    Wouldn’t it be great of that happened here? If a candidate or famous grifter had a spouse that commented?

    Alright, you caught me, I’m actually Todd Palin

  17. 17
    redshirt says:

    @BGinCHI: You either get Dodie or you get McCracken.

  18. 18
    JPL says:

    Wonder where Cato is? He/she is being quiet on the Kirk issue.

  19. 19
    Dr. Squid says:

    @Kay: Actually, no. The divorce was because of Vertolli’s objections to McCracken, who was working for Kirk since his first House term.

    http://www.chicagomag.com/Chic.....McCracken/

  20. 20
    Nina says:

    Isn’t Kirk the one who had a stroke and hasn’t been on the job for months?

  21. 21
    Stuck in the Funhouse says:

    BREAKING NEWS!! BREAKING NEWS!! BREAKING NEWS!!

    Mormon Crickets invade in record numbers!! Coincidence? I think not.

    BEAVER COUNTY — An onslaught of bugs has been under way in recent weeks: Utah’s worst invasion of Mormon crickets in many years. But state and federal agencies jumped into the battle early, and they think they may have won the fight.

    I certainly hope they “won the fight”. Baby Jeebus has scheduled a press conference to claim it’s all bullshit, and offer evidence no biblical plagues have been recently authorized. Though that could change.

    Turns out “Mormon Crickets” aren’t really crickets, but a variety of Katydid. Figures

  22. 22
    BGinCHI says:

    @redshirt: Hobson’s choice.

  23. 23
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    A Republican caught in a sex scandal with an adult woman!? What’s this world coming to?!

  24. 24
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @JPL:

    Cato only makes appearances when one of the rigged for Rethugs pollsters says Rmoney is within striking distance of Obama in Arizona or something.

  25. 25
    Kay says:

    @Dr. Squid:

    I was sort of giving him the benefit of the doubt on those allegations.

    What surprised me, honestly, is how rinky-dink his whole campaign thing was. He paid his mother for “use” of a car, he paid his aunt, he paid his wife, he paid his girlfriend. It’s like he’s running for county commissioner, not US Senate. It reminds me of the lunatic Tea Partier, the one who wasn’t a witch.

  26. 26
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I’d like it to be Callista Gingrich, but that’s just me.

    For example:

    You know how Josephine described Napoleon’s lovemaking? Well, Newt is not even up to that standard.

    However, he keeps me in bling and helmet hair, so I’m willing to put up with him once a week. Besides, the pool boy knows how to use his member. I’m not suffering.

  27. 27
    Rafer Janders says:

    @Kay:

    Why? Edwards is being prosecuted for campaign finance violations, on a fact pattern very similar to this. Whether or not he’s eventually convicted is a matter left to the jury, but it does not change the fact that, in this case at least, a technical campaign finance violation led to quite serious charges and potential imprisonment. So this is not the dead end it may at first appear as.

  28. 28
    redshirt says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I don’t! Do tell! Dish sister!

  29. 29
    Ash Can says:

    This seems like pretty tame stuff to me — not only in comparison, as dmsilev says above, but in and of itself. He may have messed around and gotten himself in a compromised position behind the scenes, but he’s never been a “family values” Bible-banger moralistic fascist like some of these other multi-marriage/sex-scandal assholes, so I’m more inclined to give him a pass, on the broken marriage/girlfriend aspect anyway.

    Where I do fault him is in not just stepping back and considering the sheer logistics of the situation. Did it never occur to him that having both of these women active in his campaign, and them receiving remuneration from it, could lead to problems? This is why office romances are anathema to common sense, for fuck’s sake. Romances are complicated enough; adding the extra layer of a work environment makes it double jeopardy. If he’s sentimental about both of these women, it doesn’t make him a bad person and I certainly wouldn’t come down on him for that. But the way in which he handled the situation makes me question his judgment.

    ETA: And looking at Rafer Janders’ comment above, I do agree that if there are campaign finance issues involved here, that’s a whole ‘nother story.

  30. 30
    LGRooney says:

    We have Sarah who seems to have been fairly successful in “charming” her way through upper-crust and powerful society, n’est-ce pas?

  31. 31
    Keith says:

    I’d like it to be Callista Gingrich, but that’s just me.

    My money is on Ginny Thomas.

  32. 32
    JPL says:

    @Keith: Ginny wouldn’t last a day.

  33. 33
    Kay says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    That’s true, and I have no desire to defend either Edwards or Kirk, but I think the problem with campaign finance is not technical violations of listed payees. The Edwards prosecution depresses me, again, not because I ever supported him, I didn’t (other than as Kerry’s VP) but because it’s a sideshow, a placebo action, almost.
    Just my opinion. If Kirk violated some disclosure rule, he should be prosecuted, but it’s stupidity on his part, because it’s incredibly easy to get around.

    This is from today’s Politico:

    Call it coordination or call it coincidence, but it’s clear there’s no robust mechanism, and little government appetite, to dissuade moneyed campaigns and super PACs from dancing near or around rules governing concerted activity and messaging which, strictly speaking, isn’t legal.
    That’s largely because of the high bar for proving a campaign or super PAC violated established law. And the Federal Election Commission has of late internally disagreed on what actually constitutes coordination between a federal campaign and political committees making independent expenditures that support them.
    Punishments, rare as they are, would almost certainly come in the form of fines that could effectively be paid out of a moneyed campaign’s petty cash drawer and come months, even years after an alleged infraction.

  34. 34
    Ash Can says:

    @JPL:

    Ginny wouldn’t last a day.

    None of them would. But it would be a blast.

  35. 35
    gnomedad says:

    @Nina:

    Isn’t Kirk the one who had a stroke and hasn’t been on the job for months?

    Yes, so leave him ALOOOOOOONE, you heartless lib!

  36. 36
    Silver says:

    @Keith:

    Nah, Thomas is the type to leave a passive-aggressive voicemail after hours.

  37. 37
    Marcellus Shale, Public Dick says:

    actually recipes and gardening with marcus bachmann might be a hoot.

  38. 38

    @Kay: You know, the fact that the deliberations are going on 8 days and counting suggests to me that there is at least one sane person on that jury, who is insisting that there is no way in hell that he’ll(1) vote to convict.

    (1) Or she’ll, but you knew that, right?

  39. 39
    Nutella says:

    @Kay:

    He paid his mother for “use” of a car, he paid his aunt, he paid his wife, he paid his girlfriend. It’s like he’s running for county commissioner, not US Senate.

    He’s a professional politician. He and all his relatives and girlfriends are making a nice living out of the political system.

    My favorite tacky detail is that the ex-wife claims that the girlfriend’s under-the-table payments from the campaign were improper and illegal while her under-the-table payments from the same campaign were perfectly correct.

  40. 40
    CVS says:

    Unleash the McCracken!

  41. 41
    Kay says:

    @Aardvark Cheeselog:

    It doesn’t look good for the prosecution, IMO. Oh, well. Now that we’ve solved the campaign finance problem with this crackdown on payments to mistresses/girlfriends/ex-wives, I think we’re done.

    I heard Gloria Borger talking about Romney’s Superpacs, and she made sure to reiterate that superpacs CANNOT coordinate with a campaign. NEVER, EVER. Or…something will happen…

    I don’t know: why are they promoting this fantasy? Just tell us the truth, Gloria. We can take it.

  42. 42
    batgirl says:

    @Nutella:

    My favorite tacky detail is that the ex-wife claims that the girlfriend’s under-the-table payments from the campaign were improper and illegal while her under-the-table payments from the same campaign were perfectly correct.

    Yep, this is my favorite part of the story too!

  43. 43
    Eli Rabett says:

    think John Edwards

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