Marshall Tuck’s campaign officials illegally coordinated with an EdVoice-linked campaign committee to produce videos in support of his candidacy, according to a Fair Political Practices Commission complaint filed in Sacramento today by officials from the Tony Thurmond For State Superintendent of Public Instruction campaign.
The technique of placing footage of your candidate for use by outside supporters is a violation of campaign finance rules. The presumed intent of Tuck officials to create YouTube “TUCK B ROLL” a no-audio upload, was to provide video footage for use by third-party supporters of the Tuck campaign. The Ed-Voice linked campaign has since used substantial parts of it for their external ad campaign.
The campaign rule in question is known as the McConnell Rule, in response to the senator’s infamous campaign video that featured the senator without any sound, in backdrops easily repurposed by others. It is now a violation for political campaigns to use the internet to place material for use by other parties.
Maddie Franklin, campaign manager for CA Superintendent candidate Tony Thurmond, explained a familiar pattern followed by wealthy private charter supporters in other states;
“This pro-Marshall Tuck committee is operating straight out of the Betsy DeVos playbook. A few billionaires get together and spend seemingly unlimited funds to elect their cherry-picked candidate, with no regard for the rules that everyone else is following. It’s undemocratic and unfair to California’s kids.”
This is just the most recent controversy for Tuck and his billionaire backers. Earlier this year Tuck took a contribution from Fieldstead & Company, which he was later pressured to return after it was publicized and criticized by LGBTQ groups. Fieldstead & Company and its CEO Howard Ahmanson were the largest funders of the Yes on Prop 8 campaign to make gay marriage illegal in California.
Read the complaint letter to FPPC explaining the violations below:
FPPC COMPLAINT FILED AGAINST MARSHALL TUCK INDEPENDENT EXPENDITURE FOR “MITCH MCCONNELL RULE” VIOLATION
Sacramento, CA – WEDNESDAY, APRIL 25, 2018 – Today a complaint was filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) against an independent expenditure committee supporting Marshall Tuck for State Superintendent of Public Instruction 2018. The complaint, brought against the committee “Students, Parents and Teachers supporting Marshall Tuck for Superintendent of Public Instruction 2018, a project of EdVoice” contends that the committee illegally coordinated with the Tuck campaign to produce videos and web content supporting Tuck, a violation of an FPPC regulation 18225.7(d)(4), known as the “Mitch McConnell rule.”
“This pro-Marshall Tuck committee is operating straight out of the Betsy DeVos playbook. A few billionaires get together and spend seemingly unlimited funds to elect their cherry-picked candidate, with no regard for the rules that everyone else is following. It’s undemocratic and unfair to California’s kids,” said Maddie Franklin, campaign manager for Tony Thurmond, whose campaign filed the FPPC complaint.
Since Mitch McConnell famously uploaded minutes of silent b-roll video footage to YouTube (sparking the trend #McConnelling), the FPPC eliminated the work-around tactic used by campaigns to get footage of their candidates to outside PACs, which are not subjected to campaign contribution limits and therefore are barred from coordinating with campaigns. In Tuck’s case, video footage from Tuck’s public YouTube channel can be seen in ads paid for by the EdVoice-sponsored committee.
The major funder of the embattled committee is the EdVoice for the Kids PAC, which is in turn funded by several of Tuck’s billionaire donors. The largest contributors in 2017 were Alice Walton ($250,000) and Carrie Penner Walton ($90,000). The Waltons have a long history with Betsy DeVos, who notoriously owes a $5.3 million fine for a campaign finance violation in Ohio. Penner Walton formerly served as board secretary of DeVos’s political organization Alliance for School Choice, and now serves on the board of EdVoice.