Friday, January 04, 2008

How much do you suppose that server space is worth?

Over at Page One Kentucky, blogger Jacob Payne -- whom we wish we could buy for how smart he really is and sell for how smart he thinks he is -- has been jumping up and down congratulating himself for supposedly uncovering an election law violation by potential Democrat Senate candidate Greg Fischer.

Fischer, a Louisvillian who is CEO of stadium seating company Dant-Clayton, sent an email from his work account attempting to recruit paid and volunteer staffers for a potential run in the primary election to be nominated to be Mitch McConnell's next sacrificial lamb this fall.

Payne thinks this is a major, egregious violation of campaign finance laws. In short, he considers it to be a corporate contribution.

This ought to be fun.

The beauty of email communication is that it's free. You don't have to pay for a postage stamp, a piece of paper or an envelope, or anything of the sort. There is no physical, material product that must be bought or produced. You really can't put a pricetag on an email. About the only value that could possibly be assigned to an email message is the amount of server storage space it takes up.

We had one of our collaborators take a look at his email box to see how much space a typical message takes. He reported back that the average text-only message in his inbox only takes up 3 or 4 kilobytes (KB) of space.

Approximately 1,000 KBs make up one megabyte (MB). It takes approximately, 1000 MBs to make up one gigabyte (GB.) We'd venture to say that Dant-Clayton's email server is a decent-sized machine, but for the sake of argument we'll say it's a 500 GB hard drive. You can buy a hard drive of that size for less than $200, but we'll assume for the sake of argument that it cost $200.

Now do the math. That translates to 40 cents a GB. Or 0.0004 cents a MB. Or 0.0000004 cents per KB. Let's say that Fischer's message took up 100 KB on the server (and that's being way too generous). That means the corporate "contribution" amounts to 0.00004 cents. How many pieces would you have to split a penny up into to get that value? Somehow we don't think this "violation" will be worth pursuing.

That dog won't hunt, Payne. If you want to go after someone who could very easily beat your beloved Andrew Horne in the Democrat primary, you'll have to find something more substantial than 4 ten-thousandths of a cent to hang your complaint on.


At 2:19 PM, January 04, 2008, Blogger Jake said...

It might help if you recognized that multiple people write at Page One. A total of six. Not just my thinks-I'm-smart self. Ha.

Second-- sending email from a corporation requires man hours. Using a corporate employee to receive and organize responses for a campaign or potential campaign requires man hours. Both are corporate contributions regardless of the amount.

At 2:23 PM, January 17, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jake is wrong and I can prove it.

Mr. Greg Fischer CAN use his office, letterhead, phones, fax, SECRETARIAL ASSISTANT, copy machine, word processor TO CONDUCT his senate campaign. It is NOT against the laws for Fischer to use his corporation(s), employees or equipment in his senate bid.

Read the Advisory Opinion from the Registry of Election Finance

Mr. Robert Blau
c/o Robert Blau for Senator
3699 Alexandria Pike
Cold Spring, Kentucky 41076

Dear Mr. Blau:
You have requested an Advisory Opinion from the Registry of Election Finance as to whether you may use property owned by Jolly & Blau, P.S.C. for the benefit of your campaign for State Senator. This property would include telephones, copiers, fax machines, and word processing equipment. Also, you asked whether you may list your office number on your campaign letterhead.

Any use of corporate property in your campaign must be documented in detail, including an itemized bill from the corporation to your campaign for any use of phones, fax machines, copies, word processors, secretarial assistance, etc. Also, those bills must be paid by check and must be retained, and you must report all such transactions when you report expenditures by your campaign. Otherwise, any use of such property could constitute an in-kind contribution to your campaign by a corporation, and Kentucky law expressly prohibits corporate contributions.

You may include your office phone number on your campaign letterhead so long as any expense incurred by the corporation as a result thereof (i.e. collect calls) are handled in the manner prescribed above.

If you have an further questions, please fell free to contact our office at (502) 564-2226.
Timothy E. Shull
General Counsel
Registry of Election Finance


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