Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Carson Setting Aside $25,000 In Tainted Campaign Contributions

WIBC's Stan Lehr, the only mainstream reporter in Indiana to cover the $25,000 in campaign contributions U.S. Rep. Andre Carson collected from Phyllis and Marla Stevens, the GLBT activists accused of embezzling $5.9 million, reports on Carson's decision to set aside the tainted campaign contributions. A spokesman for Carson, Justin Ohlemiller, tells Lehr that at least $25,000 will be set aside by Carson's campaign, awaiting further direction from federal authorities who are prosecuting a case against Phyllis Stevens for wire fraud and money laundering. Ohlemiller tells Lehr that amount might grow if it is determined that the thousands of dollars in campaign contributions received from the couple by Carson's grandmother, the late U.S. Rep. Julia Carson, were commingled with his campaign funds.

Carson, unlike most of the other federal candidates who received large contributions from the couple, personally knew them. Marla Stevens acted as a hatchet woman for the Carson political machine in 2006 when she used the Bilerico blog to smear Julia Carson's 2006 Democratic congressional primary opponent, Kris Kiser. The blog removed Stevens' defamatory post after Kiser threatened the blog's owner with a defamation lawsuit. Some are questioning whether the amount of contributions the couple gave to Carson's campaign exceeded federal campaign law limits. An individual may not contribute more than $2,400 to each candidate per election. Ironically, Carson's taxpayer-paid spokesman, Ohlemiller, boasts in his interview with Lehr how ethical Carson is. "Ohlemiller says Carson's campaigns have maintained a high ethical standard," Lehr writes. He said, "If there's any type of donation that's tainted in any shape or form, then obviously we have an obligation to...return them somehow." If Carson is so ethical, then why is Ohlemiller handling campaign-related questions as a paid congressional staffer for Carson's office? Just asking. It seems the Carsons have never been able to separate political work from government work.


indyernie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
indyernie said...

WIBC and Stan deserve credit for covering the story but... I know for a fact that they didn't give the report any creditability because of it being on the internet.
WIBC had to be spoon fed the story and directed to the on line version of the Register before they would report on it.

indyernie said...

I thought Ohlemiller was Peterson baby...Now he’s attached himself to Andre Carson...Oh well Indy has another whore working in the city.

Chris said...

If Andre Carson walked on water, you'd write a headline the reads, "Congressman Can't Swim."

He is doing exactly what you wanted him to do, which is return the money. And, yet, you still try to insinuate a sin on his part by saying there is a difference because Carson "knew them."

Then to act like the Congressman isn't ethical because a press spokesperson spoke about something that you call news instead of saying, "We have no comment. Talk to the campaign staff?" Really?

I guess it's pretty slim pickings for you on things to attack the Congressman on, hmmmm? Keep scraping the bottom of that barrel.

Downtown Indy said...

Chris, like most Carson supporters, equates 'investigate' with 'attack.'

Carson keeps a low profile around the 7th, doesn't like to field tough questions from his constituents, and absolutely avoids the media. He started his reign, er term, by promising - PROMISING - he's not miss any votes while campaigning. And he immediate broke that simple, voluntary promise.

It's the Carson way.

Carson has a team of apologists, whether officially sanctioned or not is up for debate, hitting the blogs all over with explanations of how this or that is always an attack on the saintly Carsons, never just an inquiring mind wanting answers.

We should look at that and wonder 'Why?' We don't see that with any other of our senators or representatives. Just that one.

This strikes me as very odd.

Advance Indiana said...

Chris, I specifically raised this issue a couple of years back with a number of people that it made no sense that Marla and Phyllis suddenly had all of this money to contribute that they didn't have for years prior to that. There were plenty of red flags. People in the know just chose to ignore them. I would also point out that Andre Carson collected a large contribution from an individual linked to terrorist activity. It wasn't until I reported on it that he returned that contribution. I found his original acceptance appalling given that he boasted his credentials as an anti-terrorist officer for the state's Department of Homeland Security. It's funny that you started off blogging as a critic of the Carsons until you realized that they intended to exact revenge on you and then you turned tail and started kissing up to them.

indyernie said...

"If Andre Carson walked on water, you'd write a headline the reads, "Congressman Can't Swim.""

Very similar comment to one used by Wilson a couple of years ago about Julia. Only difference is Wilson intertwined it with a racists conclusion.
Is Chris being fed talking points from the Carson camp?

Downtown Indy said...

Indeed, Ernie:

Walk on water 03/01/2007

Wilson46201 said...

I first heard the remark about Jackson walking on water during the 1984 Presidential campaign. I guess you-all aren't around Black folk much.

Downtown Indy said...

Is that a popular old "Black folk" expression?

I just read yesterday where 'gangsta' is actually a Black folk 'term of endearment.'

I learn new stuff every day...

JKurth said...

Does Indyernie mean to say that once a man works in a political campaign or administration he should never work in another?

Perhaps Ohlemiller should have laid fallow his ambition, experience, and political acumen to take up something entirely new; something pure, unbiased, and free from political agenda. Like investigative journalism. (Please observe thinly veiled sarcasm.)

All of us commenting here in this blog are participating in the same sick, broken, unproductive game of politics, masquerading as though we're not preaching only to the small choir of regular players whose opinions will never be swayed by this exercise anyway. Raise your hand if you've changed your political tune by the enlightenment of a blog post.

I hope we're at least amusing ourselves. Meanwhile, let's avoid equating each others' career paths with those who have sex for money.

There's enough prostitution in politics as it is:

artfuggins said...

I hope I live long enough to see the day when you accept the fact that Andre Carson is our duly elected Congressman. I think your claim that he is hiding out somewhere is laughable. He is everywhere in the district. He is visiting schools, churches, meetings, on the radio and visible in our grocery stores, gas stations and neighborhood meetings. What more can you expect??

indyernie said...

Wilson errr Art, I do accept the fact that Andre Carson is our duly elected Congressman. Sooner or later Andre Carson will have to grow a set of balls and act as a man should. Maybe then he will serve Indiana’s needs before supporting Californian liberal ideas. What I will never accept is the fact that Carson votes as instructed by Nancy Pelosi instead of representing the concerns of his constituents here in the 7th.

JKurth I only hope Ohlemiller continues to serve Carson as he did Peterson, if so it won‘t be to long before the voters kick Carson to the curb as they did Peterson.

Chris said...


What in the hell are you talking about?!? You said I tucked tail and ran when I found out the Carsons were going to exact revenge on me. Well, if that were true, it was the worst job ever of letting somebody know of a political hit I've seen because that would be news to me.

Were it true (it isn't), I wouldn't have cared. There's nothing I need personally from the Congressman or my party, and there's nothing they can take away from me if I don't tow the line.

I was a critic. I frequently said a Congressional seat is not a family heirloom. I didn't think watching somebody (his grandmother) meant Congressman Carson was experienced enough to do the job. You know who else I thought that about? Jim Caldwell. Guess I was wrong.

And unlike being a football coach where you have to make split second decisions on gut, the Congressman has the ability to fall back on his constituent's wishes. If he's wrong on something that REALLY matters (as opposed to symbolic stuff like defunding Acorn, which I would have voted for had I been in office), he'll lose.

But that will never happen. Here's why. My opinion changed because I have seen Congressman Carson repeatedly in social and political settings, and I'm always impressed by his thoughtfulness, but more importantly, by his questions. Sorry, but I find it refreshing when an elected official is more interested in knowing what I think than telling me what he knows. It's a subtle difference but a lot of politicians talk to you. Carson talks with you.

Because of your policy differences, AI, I don't see you understanding this, but I'm sure there's somebody in your Republican camp with whom you have this same connection for the same reason. If not, that's probably why you don't have the White House or Congress right now.

Also, to the gent who said I can't tell the difference between an investigation and an attack…this is not an investigate piece or an idle question AI asks in the first instance. It's a clear allegation of wrongdoing (which is amplified in his reply to me).

AI, I know this is going to sound condescending, but have you actually been in a campaign? You think candidates sit around and look at the checks they receive? They haven't in any of the campaigns I've worked on. If anything, you can fault his campaign staff for being too politically tin-eared to know every Arabic sounding name was going to raise a flag with SOME people so they should have done overkill on their backgrounds. But then, just as here, it worked. You pointed it out, and the Congressman did what you wanted. You ask the Congressman for something, and you get it. See how responsive he is, even to constituents who hate him?

artfuggins said...

What a display of class by Chris.

Advance Indiana said...

Chris, I've been working in political campaigns since I was 13. I worked several hotly-contested state legislative races when I lived and worked in Illinois. You couldn't touch the political experience I have. I remember a time not so long ago that a candidate knew who all of his contributors were. When Carson entered the race as to succeed his grandmother as a complete unknown, nearly $1 million flowed into the district from many people who had never met Carson or knew next to nothing about him. He traveled to Miami, Washington, D.C., Chicago, etc. for fundraisers. He solicited and accepted contributions from anyone with reckless abandon.
Contrast that with his opponent, Jon Elrod. I could go down the list of his contributors and recognize almost every name on the disclosed campaign statements with the FEC. He didn't raise near as much as Carson, but $200,000 in a the short time frame he had to run was nothing to sneeze at. People should be asking why Carson attracted all of this money from outside the district from individuals and PACS who had never met him. We saw something extremely frightening happen in our presidential election. The Obama campaign set up a campaign website that allowed for online contributions without the normal edits and audits to limit contributions from people legally eligible. Hundreds of names like Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and even non-words showed up as contributors to Obama. A couple of Palestinian guys contributed more than $30,000, something they clearly could not do legally. They claimed they were just buying T-shirts. We saw one questionable lottery scheme after another the Obama campaign utilized to raise money from people within the U.S., promising tickets to events, etc. Unbelievably, the FEC is investigating McCain's campaign, which raised a fraction of what Obama raised and had a compliant online contribution system, and is not investigating Obama. The campaign finance system is completely broken just like about everything else in this country. I've said it before and I'll said it again. I believe the Republic has been lost.

Wilson46201 said...

The Republic endures!

Some said Roosevelt was in thrall to the cosmopolitan Jewish bankers.

Others were sure Eisenhower was a dedicated, conscious agent of the worldwide Communist conspiracy.

Ronald Reagan predicted the passage of Medicare would be the end of freedom as we knew it.

Some call Obama a usurping Muslim foreigner.

But the Republic endures despite the eternal pessimism of a few!

Chris said...


I was talking about the Congressman's receipt of this $25,000, and you switched to something about the audit problems with the Obama on-line fundraising operation. This is why I constantly criticize your analysis of Carson. You try to connect him with things that aren't connectable or remotely related.

Also, I wasn't trying to offend you, but if you've worked on campaigns where people raise real money, you know that candidates seldom have any idea who has given.

But if that's the code of conduct you expect from members of Congress, you better start slamming on Joe Wilson. He just cracked a million dollars from 18,000 donors, and I assure you he has NO IDEA who half of them are or how they earned their money. Go get 'em!!! Yeah, that's what I thought. You don't REALLY hold this as a standard for candidate conduct, just for Carson.

Also, why don't you call for the rest of those Republicans to give up their Abramoff money while you're at it. I know it must pain your conscience to have so many of your brethren holding so much tainted money.

indyernie said...

Chris, Gary is right to question Carson ethics. Phyllis Stevens IS well known to the Carson camp. She was a supporter for years. Carson is required to know from whom he is getting contributions. Carson and company knew Phyllis lived a modest life. When someone of modest means donates 25K to a congressional campaign questions need asked. Carson should have asked those question. Instead all Carson did was take the cash.

Wilson46201 said...

Marla and Phyllis Stevens told people they'd inherited the money. That's certainly a lot more believable than a quiet clerk was embezzling over $5,000,000 from her employer!

indyernie said...

Why don't I believe you Wilson? Could it be because you've twisted the truth in the past? Or could it be because Carson has accepted controversial and illegal contributions in the past.
I have no confidence in Carson or you.

indyernie said...

I wonder if the FBI will call Wilson as a witness. Wilson seems to know a lot about Marla and Phyllis contributions.
Reading between the lines I expected Marla to get off easy. If she told Wilson and the Carson team that the money was inherited then she was up to her neck in the theft too.

iPOPA said...

Indy Ernie:

I think Wilson is right on this one. If somebody says they inherited money, do I have to see a copy of the will? How far does this go?

You remember Enid Greene? She got bamboozled by her own husband. People can be lied to, and if you think it's a character flaw that somebody takes a person at their word when they have no reason to doubt them, you have a very pessimistic view of the world. I'm gathering you wouldn't have let Greene serve as chair of the Utah Republican Party, given she was so flawed?

I forgot to add, Justin is a good guy. That was pretty low-class calling him a whore, dude.

Advance Indiana said...

Ernie, When I inquired about where they got their money to others, several people expressed the view that one of them had inherited a significant amount of money. Marla was questioned on this blog about it. She professed that the couple had never been paid anything for lobbying GLBT causes and that they had self-financed their activities. Here's some of what Marla said in a comment on this blog:

"Anonymous wrote about me, "She has been known to accept compensation from a group of Indiana entities who lobby for gender equality and fairness issues."

Wrong again! In all the decades I lobbied at the Indiana state legislature, I never accepted a penny in compensation for my work there -- and only rarely even submitted my expenses for any of my activism for reimbursement from the organizations on behalf of which I lobbied. Instead, my wife and I made a family decision to self-fund the bulk of our activism, often at considerable personal expense.

The only "loose-knit coalition" of "Indiana entities who lobby for gender equality and fairness issues" that I remember that was a registered lobbying group at the time was the Gender Fairness Coalition. While I agree that "their cause is just" and supported their work, at no time did I serve as the registered lobbyist for that group, although I did participate in their conference committee 'death watch' task-sharing working group during many a session's end game, along with a number of others who worked in the public's interest who also had a personal interest in being able to get at least a few hours sleep every once in a while and found that sharing the conference committee watch duties was a practical means to that end.

The Gender Fairness Coalition was anything but a wealthy group and did sometimes hire entry-level lobbyists as a result but those I remember often went on to lobby for more prestigious groups and never did I remember one I would have thought incompetent. The public interest issues for which it advocates are often held in low regard by some at the statehouse but I think that speaks to the nature of public-interest work versus Gucci-gulch corporate "ka-ching" lobbying as well as to the related "best legislature money can buy" problems that have been too rampant in that body for too long than about the quality of the lobbying in the public interest that takes place there."

Advance Indiana said...

Incidentally, a prominent financial consultant in the gay community with political aspirations once vouched for their financial standing. I'm wondering if he has any information to share with the FBI.

indyernie said...

Your right iPOPA I shouldn’t have compared Ohlemiller to a whore. A whore at least provides a service for the money that is charged. Ohlemiller along with the rest of Peterson’s mob only took from Indianapolis. Justin was apart of an administration that failed the citizens of Indy. Peterson and crew ran this city damm near to bankruptcy. They tried to shut down City Government when they left office. Mayor Peterson's administration and staff shredded everything when they left office. Those who were appointed to active committees left when Peterson left office. Why? No one knew who was serving on which committee. When Peterson’s administration was done shredding the city didn't have a list of active committee appointees. There wasn’t a stapler or paperclip on the 25th floor. Ohlemiller was a big part of what happened. He took his salary and ran. Compared to Ohlemiller a whore is an upstanding citizen.

artfuggins said... claim Carson has taken illegal contributions in the past.....NAME ONE

Sir Hailstone said...

I see the John Touhy and the IndyStar has finally caught up to the Des Moines paper and your reporting on this...

Link To IndyStar Article