Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Nuisance Suit Settled

DFS settled this case for one reason and one reason only: the enormous cost of battling a gigantic corporate law firm in a "nuisance" suit," Cantor continued.
"As this incredible shrinking case comes to a close - no million-dollar conspiracies, no massive fraud - there is only a penny-ante dispute over bridge tolls and some part-time campaign workers." "For now, we are pleased that we can return to the serious work of advancing 'common-sense progressivism.' Stronger rent regulation. Living wage jobs. Energy efficiency and mass transit. Paid sick days. Lower property taxes on the middle class and higher income taxes on the wealthy. Nothing more, but nothing less.

- Dan Cantor, WFP Executive Director and the only honest party boss I know!

As first reported by the Voice's Tom Robbins yesterday, the deal requires Rose to pay $8,525 to make good on "alleged undercharging" by DFS - the bulk of which, $5,600, is for the services of three employees: Vonda McKeithan, Bryan Collinsworth and Rachel Goodman.
Rose also has to pay a $5,000 outstanding bill for work DFS did on the February 2009 special election she lost to Ken Mitchell, whom she later ousted in the September primary.
In addition, DFS has agreed to a host of "corporate structure and corporate governance" reforms, including changes to its contracts with candidates, the appointment of independent directors; the establishment of employment, management and administrative structures wholly separate from that of the WFP and annual audits by an outside CPA.
The settlement appears in full after the jump. There's also a confidentiality agreement that you can read here.
As Robbins noted, this is hardly the big bombshell that Mastro made it out to be when he first filed his lawsuit back in October. But there's room for both sides to declare a measure of victory here.
Mastro will no doubt trumpet the fact that he managed to force the WFP to make significant structural changes that will uncouple it from DFS.
WFP officials have privately said they would likely have done so anyway, once former Chief Judge Judith Kaye is done with the review she has undertaken at the party's request (and expense).
This does clear away one headache for the WFP, leaving only the US attorney's probe into DFS for the party to worry about - a not insignificant concern. But if that investigation comes to as clean and timely a conclusion as this lawsuit has, the WFP will be able to flex its muscle - a lot more carefully - in the upcoming fall elections. WFP Executive Director Dan Cantor, who has been keeping a low profile of late, released a rather defiant statement calling Mastro's action a "nuisance suit," and insisting that DFS "did not undercharge the Rose campaign - or any other - by a single dime.

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