Others can have at the prurient Herman Cain sexual harassment scandal. While it may be fun watching Cain bob and weave to try and “recollect” these claims in the best possible light, I maintain that the much more damaging issue for Cain is the fact that a network of private corporations directly paid for many of the campaign’s early events. Adele Stan has a good roundup of this story:

Prosperity USA, described as a 501(c)(3) in its incorporation documents (and which now seems to be defunct), appears to have been footing the bill for Cain campaign expenses, including a highly unusual payment of $100,000 to the right-wing Congress of Racial Equality in advance of a major speech by Cain. Daniel Bice, who writes the Journal Sentinel’s No Quarter blog, reports that the payment to CRE appears to have been disbursed from $150,000 in loans raised from unnamed donors. While Bice says that Cain was apparently not paid for that appearance, the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer this month uncovered information suggesting that Cain’s speaking fees are not directly reported as such on his disclosure forms to the Federal Elections Commission, but are shielded from public view as transactions that take place between his private company and the speaker’s bureau representing him [...]

Among Bice’s revelations is a record showing that Prosperity USA paid for (Cain chief of staff and noted smoker Mark) Block’s travel to meet with David Koch, the billionaire right-wing funder behind Americans for Prosperity and its foundation, and AFP president Tim Phillips in Washington, D.C., in January — after Block was named “chief of staff” of the Cain campaign. Although the records Bice combed through do not specify a date for that trip, we know that both Phillips and Koch were in the nation’s capital to celebrate the swearing in of the new congress on January 6, and to see the speaker’s gavel passed from Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to John Boehner, R-Ohio.

Block has a history of running afoul of campaign finance laws, and this just appears to be an extension of this. The more you read, the more you recognize that the Cain campaign is really just a corporate front group in and of itself, designed to push the conversation well to the right. Block is the only senior staffer in the Cain campaign, and he’s a direct conduit to the Koch Brothers and their network of corporate-funded groups.

The campaign is now claiming they will investigate the charges. Block himself had to answer some questions about this today, and here was the result:

At National Journal’s 2012 preview panel, in the caged environment of a hotel ballroom and live video, ABC News’s Amy Walter asked Block if he could explain the Bice story.

“We’ve retained independent counsel to look at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story and report back to us,” said Block.

Walter followed up with a different version of the question.

“We’ve retained independent counsel to look at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story,” said Block.

Walter tried again, asking Block if he watched the books when he ran the organization.

“Amy,” said Block, coldly and calmly, “why don’t we talk about the campaign going forward?”


The only problem with the story by Daniel Bice, which is meticulously documented, is that it came out on the same day as these sexual harassment allegations. But there’s a lot of smoke here.