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Statehouse Beat: Who’s behind the Judd campaign?

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- One unresolved question in the Keith Judd presidential saga is the question of how a federal prison inmate was able to raise the $2,500 filing fee to appear on the state Democratic primary ballot (paid via three money orders).

Alternate conspiracy theories suggest that either national Republican operatives supplied the money in order to embarrass President Barack Obama by his losing 41 percent of the primary vote to a convicted felon; or that state Democratic Party power brokers put up the cash, anticipating that a strong showing by Judd would give Joe Manchin and Earl Ray Tomblin an ironclad excuse for steering clear of Obama in the general election campaign.

After going through an extensive stack of Judd's filings with the Federal Elections Commission, dating back to his first statement of organization to run for president, back in May 1995 when he was still a free man living in Albuquerque, N.M., it appears neither theory is correct.

Like our own Bill Maloney, it appears that Judd's runs for public office are largely self-financed.

Separating truth from fiction in Judd's FEC filings is challenging. Many of his FEC filings are merely rambling political manifestos, first critical of Hillary Clinton in 2008, and in this election, of President Obama and his health-care reform.

Some of his financial reports seemingly are completely fanciful. In a December 2011 filing, he lists total contributions of "$155,3,000" (yes) listing 13 $1,000 contributors by name (all with New Hampshire addresses), with other 1,400 "contributors" identified only through telephone numbers.

(Judd apparently has a thing for phone numbers. In January, he submitted an "amended telephone list" to the FEC, consisting of four pages of multiple columns of handwritten, single-spaced phone numbers.)

In February 2004, responding to a FEC letter for failing to file his 2003 year-end financial report ("Reason for being late is the Federal Bureau of Prisons," he answered). Judd lists no contributions, but indicates he has property assets of buildings and land in Albuquerque valued at $3 million. Again, a flight of fancy?

From time to time, Judd submits campaign expenditures to the FEC, providing receipts from the only place he can purchase such supplies, at the federal prison commissaries, first in the Beaumont (Texas) then the Texarkana (Texas) Federal Correctional Institutions.

The FCI receipts are kind of a hybrid between checkout and ATM receipts, showing items purchased and the cost (including campaign-related materials such as typewriter ribbons and rolls of stamps, and personal items including various vitamins and snack foods), then listing the inmate's daily spending limit balance ($290 maximum), and his total account balance.

A May 2007 receipt shows an account balance of $165.37, which seems reasonable. However, the next receipt I found on file, in March 2008, showed a balance of $130,886.19. Typo?

Not according to a 2007 filing with the FEC, in which Judd includes a July 14 deed of sale for a commercial property site at 3101 Aztec Road in Albuquerque for $170,000. (A Google Earth search shows it to be a five-bay parking garage.)

Sure enough, in that filing, Judd includes a copy of his prison financial account showing a July 27, 2007, deposit of $161,527.70, which raised his account balance from $54.32 to $161,582.07.

The most recent commissary invoice I spotted, dated Jan. 12, 2009, showed his account balance was down to $122,618.38. (Wonder how many of the 72,000-some Judd "supporters" have that kind of bankroll?)

At any rate, it seems that the $2,500 filing fee did not present an obstacle for Judd.

***

Regarding last week's item regarding the poor job (actually, no job) most of the media in the state did in publicizing Judd's status prior to the primary, Evelyn Bennett sent word that West Virginia Public Radio did in fact air a report on Judd prior to the election (which I would have missed, since I don't listen to FM, and it didn't come up on a Google News search).

Still, between the Gazette, Beckley Register-Herald and WVPB combined, it's doubtful that more than one-fourth of primary voters got a heads-up on Judd's jailbird status. The scary thing is, that knowledge probably wouldn't have changed the minds of many of those anti-Obama voters.

***

Finally, wouldn't you know there's a connection between Keith Judd and Randall Reid-Smith's Division of Culture and History?

For some reason (kismet, perhaps?), Judd mailed the above-referenced letter in January regarding his phone list, not to the FEC in Washington, but to the division offices in the Culture Center in Charleston.

(It's not the only time Judd mismailed a document intended for the FEC, records show. His January 2011 declaration of candidacy for the 2012 elections was mailed to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which forwarded it to the FEC.)

FEC records show a Jan. 19 letter on Culture and History letterhead from Deputy Commissioner Caryn Gresham forwarding Judd's letter, with the handwritten statement, "I believe this was incorrectly sent to our office in West Virginia. I am forwarding it to you in hopes that you can help or reply to Mr. Judd."

Gresham said she had completely forgotten about the letter, until reminded of it by an enterprising young reporter last week.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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