Bad at Maths

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I’m weird, I like math. Sometimes for fun I do math-related things. Today I took a spin through the FEC records. That’s Federal Election Campaign records. Specifically I was looking at April 2017 Quarterly reports.

My favorite was Donald Trump’s filings for the first quarter of 2017. It’s reported two different ways, one as a presidential candidate and one as the committee of the candidate. In theory, both records match. In theory.

In the quarterly report that was filed for Trump as a presidential candidate, the disbursements (payments to people or companies by the campaign) were $6,370,250.57 and the period over which they were paid out was between Jan 17 and March 31.

The problem is, the quarter started on Jan 1 , not the 3rd Tuesday of that month. So, that’s an issue. The other issue, the bigger one, is that when one looks at the actual list of payees, and totals up the amounts paid, the total comes to $98,392,468.12.

That’s $98,392,468.12 minus $6,370,250.57. That’s a $92 million difference between the summary and the reality. I grant you that may be peanuts to a billionaire, but still . . . it’s a legal document reporting the guy can’t account for $92 million bucks.

When I next looked the quarterly report that was filled as the campaign committee, the detailed summary information was identical to the presidential summary. Everything matched. The disbursements (payments to people or companies by the campaign) were $6,370,250.57.

Unfortunately, and kind of incredibly, this filing was mucked up too.  The dates were right this time, Jan 1 – Mar 31, 2017. However, upon running the totals for the listed payees, the sum amounted to $5,451,272.33.

That’s a $918,978.24 difference between the summary and the reality. So, about 90% less wrong this time, but still way, way wrong. I’m not sure who the accountant is for this guy, but geez, I’d fire him/her/them.

I’m sure they’ll get a letter from the FEC telling them about the discrepancies. I can see at least a bit of what went horribly wrong. The person who filed these documents, instead of doing their job, just cut and paste all the Post General Election (which covers Nov 9-30 of 2016) payees and amounts into the 2017 Q1 (Jan 1-Mar 31) report as Q1 payees and amounts.

I suppose being about a million dollars off in one’s accounts is way better than about 100 million dollars off. But it does make you wonder. How is this administration going to keep the economy on an even footing, or create a budget, or tinker with the fine inner workings of health care or tax reform, if it can’t even keep it’s own books properly?

Given Trump’s inability to tell the truth, I guess this should be considered par for the course. File a screwed up filing then just wait and see if the FEC catches you. If they do, you just file an amended filing and say “oops.”

So far the FEC has sent him a number of letters about discrepancies in previous filings, all of which required amended filings. It’s a bit of a pattern really.

I’m sure there’s a penalty for repeatedly lying to the FEC, but given the FEC is composed of six Commissioners who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, I really have no expectation of change.

On the other hand, someone at the FEC keeps sending him letters, so … God bless that person.

 

 

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