The Greening of Santorum

From Holden:

Is there any magnet for whores in this country larger than the Green Party?

When Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) encouraged everyone in state politics to help the Green Party earn a spot on the November ballot, at least one group answered the call: Santorum donors.

Fourteen Santorum supporters gave $40,000 to fund a petition drive that has allowed Carl Romanelli to collect about 100,000 voter signatures to qualify for the Senate race. That’s 33,000 more signatures than required, and double what independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader gathered here in 2004.

But Romanelli and the Green Party of Luzerne County, which collected the money, might have violated federal election law in the process.

In his latest campaign-finance reports, Romanelli listed $66,000 as an in-kind contribution from the Green Party. Such donations cannot exceed $5,000, said Ian Stirton, a Federal Election Commission spokesman, who spoke generally about election law and not about this specific case.

[snip]

“Both Republicans and Democrats have this notion that, if Greens are in the race, Democrats lose votes,” said Romanelli, a railroad-industry consultant from the Wilkes-Barre area. “If that was going to motivate someone to contribute, I am fine with that.”

[snip]

“We have encouraged those who have inquired or asked to assist in this effort,” said Virginia Davis, Santorum’s spokeswoman, of the Green Party petitions. She declined to provide specifics. “I think the bigger question here is why is Bob Casey going to such extremes to silence another voice in the Democratic process?”

Larry Smar, a Casey spokesman, said Santorum was being hypocritical. He did not debate third-party candidates in 2000, but is now “using the Green Party as a political pawn,” Smar said.

“He is trying to get someone else on the fall ballot to steal votes,” Smar said.

[snip]

The petition drive, which involved a mix of volunteers and paid workers, was funded with $34,000 from a dozen individuals who contributed to Santorum’s reelection campaign. An additional $6,000 came from individuals who lived at the same addresses as Santorum donors.

The Taylor family of Salinas, Calif., was the most active. Steven and Kathryn Taylor and two others at the same address who listed their occupation as students contributed $10,000 to the Green Party; five Taylor family members have contributed $20,700 to Santorum’s reelection campaign.