This is actually an update to a story which first broke last October and it takes place in upstate New York’s 23rd congressional district, currently represented by Republican Tom Reed. Democrat hopeful Martha Robertson is seeking to unseat Reed and has run into some tough sledding in terms of attracting donors and broad support. But last fall she appeared to have hit upon an idea to generate some sympathy (and cash) when she sent out the following fundraising e-mail. (Revealed by Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection.)

Martha-Robertson-fundraising-email-partial

Clearly that’s a pretty serious charge, and if either the Reed campaign or the local GOP were behind it, there would be serious repercussions. Robertson said that she would be hiring a a cyber-security firm to get to the bottom of it. But, as Moe Lane reports, Robertson’s interest in Finding The Real Hackers seems to have faded rather quickly.

Annnd how did that investigation go? Well, according to this FEC report for 4Q 2013, it didn’t go at all: if Robertson had an investigation done, it wasn’t paid for by the campaign. Now, I am not an expert on this sort of thing, but as I understand the rules involving a FEC Form 3: Schedule B is for the reporting of all disbursements to vendors for campaign-related work. That there is no listing there for a cyber-security investigation seems very interesting. Almost as interesting? The fact that the campaign has been ducking this question since at least December.

Shortly after the story came out and began to be vetted, Jacobson reports that he reached out to the Reed campaign regarding the rather sizable fundraising hit which Robertson received on the heels of that accusation. They responded.

Clearly there are questions surrounding this email that the authorities need to investigate. Meanwhile, Martha Robertson needs to return the money she raised through this deceptive email. Her campaign raised over $30,000 on September 30. That money should be returned and she should apologize both to her supporters and to the voters.

And yet there has been no offer from Ms. Robertson to refund the donations and she has little or nothing more to say about her seemingly unfounded accusations against the local branch of the GOP. For their part, Don Leonard (chair of the Tioga County GOP Committee) has been in touch with the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to find out what, if any, laws may have been broken during the course of this dubious exercise.

To close with a bit of full disclosure, I have never been on the staff of Tom Reed or served him in any capacity, but I do know him and worked a few campaign stops with him during the 2010 elections. He used to be the Mayor of Corning, is a great guy and has been a real asset to the area. I also have done a few local events with Don Leonard, a long time fixture in GOP politics in this area, and I can tell you that he’s a level headed, reliable guy who is not prone to crazy, set your hair on fire diatribes. If he sees enough smoke off of this event to take action, you can bet there’s probably some fire there. Of course, this is the same campaign that kicked off their first fundraiser by featuring a convicted child molester