Chad Causey has a natural advantage running for the open seat in the First Congressional District.
He served as chief of staff for Marion Berry for four years. Such connections can prove beneficial in the Delta, an area of the state where Berry loyalty remains high.
Some campaign watchers have wondered if the relationship between Berry and Causey is too cozy. FEC reports filed for an April 15, 2010 deadline show Causey paying “Marion Berry for Congress” for office space.
Responding to questions by e-mail, Anders Reynolds, spokesman for the Causey campaign, says that Berry allowed “our campaign to use his campaign office from 27 January 2010 through early February 2010.” The campaign has reported office expenses during that time as “in-kind” on its March campaign report.
Reynolds said the campaign rented its own headquarters on February 3 and moved in shortly thereafter.
Erika Krennerich Chudy, currently Berry’s congressional chief of staff, said via email, “Chad only used the Berry campaign office when first gauging support for his potential run and getting his current headquarters set up, thus it was listed as a ‘contribution in-kind’ on the FEC report. Rent, phones, utilities etc. were all pro-rated for that period of time.”
Berry announced on January 25 that he would not seek re-election. He has subsequently endorsed Causey’s bid for the Congressional seat.
One curious payment on Berry’s April FEC report occured on March 23. “Marion Berry for Congress” paid $33,000 to Global Strategy Group, LLC for polling. Why would a candidate poll nearly two months after he decided not to run again for office? The Berry camp says he didn’t.
“The poll was actually conducted in Fall 2009, before Congressman Berry decided not to run for re-election,” Chudy wrote in the email. “The payment for the poll was made March 23, 2010 after receiving the invoice on January 22, 2010.”
A poll that costs $33,000 would be lengthy and include at least 18-20 minutes of questions, polling experts say.
Reynolds said that the Causey campaign paid $26,000 for a poll on April 12 and the disbursement will be disclosed on the 12-day pre-election report to the FEC.
On March 11, Berry paid $2,500.00 to DSC Campaign, LLC for website design. On March 12, Causey paid $2,750.00 to the same firm.
“The payment for web design falls in the same category as the poll – the web design work was started in November of 2009, before Congressman Berry decided against running for re-election,” says Chudy. “We then received an invoice February 9, 2010 for the work done prior, thus it is reflected on this quarter’s filing.”
The Causey campaign echoes that statement.
“The Berry campaign made no payments on behalf of Chad Causey for Congress in regards to website design or polling,” Reynolds replied. “Chad Causey for Congress has paid a total of $10,750 for website design and hosting.”
Reynolds explained that on March 12, the campaign paid $2,750 to DCS Campaign, LLC for initial design work, which is disclosed on the campaign’s FEC report.
“We contracted with Bullseye Interactive to complete the website and continue hosting it,” Reynolds said. “We paid that group $8,000 on 9 April 2010. That payment will be reflected on our 12 day pre-election report to the FEC, to be filed next week.”
Causey is running against State Senator Steve Bryles, State Rep. David Cook, Dr. Terry Green, educator Ben Ponder, and former State Senator Tim Wooldridge in the Democratic primary.
This article was written by Suzi Parker. She is a Talk Business contributor who freelances for The Economist, U.S. News & World Report’s "Washington Whispers" column, The Christian Science Monitor and Politics Daily. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/suziparker.