"Here's the truth: During the petition drive, Carl Romanelli offered to pay any volunteer collecting signatures for Green Party candidates. A couple of our volunteers accepted and received around the figure Bernie O'Hare quoted. $200 represents 100 signatures @ $2 each. We collected a total of over 4600 signatures. We needed 3417 sigs to get on the ballot. Guy and I personally collected over 600 each and accepted no payment.
At the time the money was offered and paid we had no idea that some of Romanelli's donations came from Republicans. I'm certain no one would have accepted it if we had known.
My campaign received no money from Carl Romanelli. We are proud to be grassroots and firm on our principles.
I have serious problems with Greta's explanation.
First, contrary to what Browne claims, it was widely known Romanelli was funded exclusively by Santorum supporters.
Second, the explanation is inaccurate. In addition to the $200 noted yesterday, an additional $855 independent expenditure was paid on her behalf. Moreover, "coordinated expenditures" on behalf of all four congressional greens are reported by FEC records at $40,735. The money came from the Luzerne County Green Party, which in turn was funded with $156,000 from the likes of the founder of Blackwater USA. It was blood money.
Third, Titus North, Pittsburgh's green congressional candidate from Pittsburgh, acknowledges he was aware this sort of money might be coming as part of an informal arrangement with Romanelli. This is inconsistent with what Browne now says, although I have no reason to doubt her honesty and I don't think Titus North expected that such a large sum would be reported.
Fourth, Browne indicates "a couple" of the "volunteers" agreed to accept payment but the $200 check was made out to only one person. And there is no explanation for the $855 payment or the subsequent "coordinated expenditures."
Fifth, during a debate last week in Pen Argyl, Browne said her largest contributor gave her $500, and this was in response to a specific question about her campaign contributors. She did not note that she had actually allowed someone to pay a volunteer $2 for every signature. She did not mention either the $200 or $855 expenditure. She did not mention Blackwater USA. Perhaps she did not know. Perhaps she and her fellow Greens have been set up.
Derf Maitland, the Green candidate for Congress in York, threatened a libel prosecution, and provided an even better demonstration of how Greens really view open and accountable government:
"Whose side are you on? If you are a Green (or a former Green), then bring this matter up to the State Green Party--address it the right way and stop throwing darts. If you are a Dem or Rep, then you are just blowing smoke up my ass. If you are another party or independent, then it's none of your business ... ."
I get it. If I'm a Green or former Green, I should note this little $40,000 problem privately. If I belong to a major party, my motivation is necessarily political. And if I'm independent, it's none of my business! In other words, I have no right to air this dirty laundry publicly.
This betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of my rights, not as a member of some political party, but as an American citizen. As a democrat and citizen who cares about my government, I have every right to question the pernicious influence of money in politics. Greens do it all the time. That right is so important the FEC makes finance records available online for all of us.
The Green Party is supposed to be driven by grassroots, not big money, and certainly not Blackwater or Haliburton. Congressional Greens have either benefited from this money or are victims of a charade being perpetuated by Luzerne County's Greens. I don't deny the need to reform draconian ballot access laws. But that does not excuse either the blood money or the deceptive nature of the green party's financial disclosure. And it does not excuse green candidates who tell the public their campaign finances are none of our business.