disclose, denny

Friday, February 17, 2006

disingenuous denny hastert

further to my previous post called "is Hastert bamboozling?", we learnt from the FEC response to CREW's complaint that 70% of the contributions to Hastert For Congress were in "annual low-ticket-price (between $25 and $150) events."

In that post, I speculated that the average contribution was likely to be approximately $50 (based purely on the 80/20 rule). I don't really understand how these events are organised - are these 'contributions' effectively ticket prices (with different strata)? or are they 'open' events where the participant literally makes a donation? or are there different events with different ticket prices - say $150 per plate at one event, and other events where you walk by and get your photo taken with him for $25? etc... once we know that, i suspect that we can look into the historical record and get a better fix on the exact size on the average donation size for the "70% of the contributions" - but for the moment, I'm quite comfortable assuming an average of approximately $50 for these 70% of contributions.

Consider that HFCC plucked this apparently random statistic in an attempt to show themselves in the best light.

Given that we are primarily interested in understanding whether HFCC received an inordinate number of marginally-less-than-$200 contributions, as described in the wiretaps, then maybe Hastert has inadvertently given us a window into the other 30% of 'individual contributions'.

Excuse the math for a minute, but there are some things that we know, and with some interpolation, we may be able to ascertain the things that we dont know (to paraphrase Rumsfeld).

According Rose, between April 96 and Dec 02, Hastert received $483,000 in undisclosed contributions. I believe that Rose started his analysis in April because the Q1, 96 numbers are missing from Hastert's official filings. I learnt that Hastert's total contributions from individuals in Q1 were $50,000 - and Hastert's Q2 numbers show a 50/50 split between disclosed and undisclosed. Therefore, I assumed that half of his Q1 individual contributions were also undisclosed. Therefore, between 96 and 02, I have pegged Hastert's undisclosed contributions at (483+25) = $508,000.

According to FEC, Hastert "attached a list of all unitemized contributions from 1996 to 2002" - so I'm going to assume that includes all of 1996 (i.e. including Q1). And we know that "70% of the contributions came from annual low-ticket-price (between $25 and $150) events." For reasons that I've outlined, I'm assuming that the average of those contributions is $50.

Following on, we have 2 unknowns - the total number of contributions (let's call that Y), and the average size of contributions that occur outside of these 'annual events' (let's call that Z) - such that the equation at hand is:
(70% * $50 * Y) + (30% * $Z * Y) = $508,000
If we knew the value of Y ( total number of contributions), we could solve for Z (the average size of contributions that occur outside of these 'annual events') - and if Z was suspiciously high, then we'd be some way toward proving our point - which is that Hastert was on the receiving end of "tens of thousands of dollars" of contributions which were designed to skirt the $200 reporting requirement.

Thanks to FEC, we have a small glimpse into understanding Y. FEC notes that Hastert's affadavit "included a 159-page attachment listing the names and addresses of all individuals who contributed less than $200 between 1996 and 2002."

The question, then, is how many contributors per page? If there is a standard reporting procedure/format, and if we can get that information, then we can determine how many contributors Hastert had, and we will then know the average size of the contributions that occur outside the regular 'annual event' channels.

My guess is that this number will look 'somewhat' high, but won't 'prove' anything, specifically. However, if my hunch is correct, it will demonstrate that Hastert's random claim that "70% of the contributions came from annual low-ticket-price (between $25 and $150) events" is intentionally disingenuous - which would certainly focus our attention.

lemme ask around.

(if necessary, we could also do some research into the validity of my guesstimate that the average 'annual event' contribution is $50)

crossposted at wotisitgood4


At 7:25 AM, Blogger Miguel said...

I may have already put this in another post, but I do not believe that Hastert's treasurer sent the amount of each unitemized contribution along with the name and address of each contributor. This is significant, if true, for it could render the list almost totally useless. You could not match the amounts on the list with the previously reported unitemized totals. Just as importantly, if you get a list of names that look suspicious, you cannot estimate how much each suspicious individuals might have donated. Does that make sense?


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