Pennsylvania House Candidate May Have Skirted Campaign Finance Laws in Announcement Ad

Questions emerge about Democrat Rachel Reddick's financial disclosures

Pennsylvania Democrat Rachel Reddick in her campaign video / Youtube screenshot

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The announcement ad posted by Democrat Rachel Reddick’s campaign in early October raised questions about whether or not the candidate complied with federal disclosure requirements on Thursday. Reddick is running in Pennsylvania’s eighth congressional district against Republican incumbent Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick.

"Rachel Reddick apparently thought the best way to launch her campaign would be disregarding federal campaign finance laws," National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Chris Martin told the Washington Free Beacon. "The cost of her three-minute-long video shot and produced in high definition clearly exceeded $5,000 and should have been disclosed in a quarterly finance report."

Reddick's ad "For Country" was published on October 8. The candidate filed her statement of candidacy and the campaign filed its statement of organization with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) the next day. The campaign, however, does not appear to have filed a financial disclosure for the third quarter of the year, which ended in September.

While the FEC allows people to explore whether or not they want to run for federal office without disclosing donations or expenditures that are less than $5,000, once they reach that threshold in donations, expenditures, or any combination of the two, the agency requires the person to register as a candidate, register his or her campaign committee, and disclose donations and expenditures. If the Reddick campaign's announcement video cost more than $5,000 to create and that money was either raised or spent any time before October 1, the donations and expenditures should have been reported in a financial disclosure for the third quarter of the year.

The Reddick campaign did not return repeated requests for comment on when the money for their ad was raised or spent.

A campaign ad expert said the Reddick campaign's ad likely cost in excess of $20,000 to produce. "In my experience to create an ad like this you are looking at $20,000 or more—it could even easily be in the 30s or 40s in terms of cost," Justin Germany, head of ad-maker Outlaw Media, told the Free Beacon. "It has a lot of different scenes, a mix of different on camera locations as well as b-roll locations. Meaning it was probably more than a one-day shoot."

He said the video had the hallmarks of a high-end professional video production.

"Look at the shots of the candidate on the pier in front of the ships," Germany said. "It's at dusk but she's perfectly lit. That means they were probably using powerful HMI lights, a sign of a more expensive production. Also, the cost of editing a three-minute-long video can really add up—as it's not something that is often cut in just one day."

Germany said while it may be possible to produce an ad like that in a short timetable, an ad of that length and quality generally takes weeks to make.

"For a bio ad like this it usually takes weeks of planning between the campaign, candidate, and consultant," he said. "They need to find the supporters, the locations, crew and hammer down scripts and messaging. And after all of that—cut the ad and then go back and forth on changes."

The FEC confirmed Reddick filed a statement of candidacy on October 9 and stated through a spokesperson it could not "discuss individual committees or matters."

Stephen Gutowski   Email Stephen | Full Bio | RSS
Stephen Gutowski is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. He founded his own site as a junior in college and has been writing about news and politics since that time. He spent 4 years with the Media Research Center and was most recently with the Capitol City Project. His email address is Gutowski@FreeBeacon.com. His twitter handle is @StephenGutowski.

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