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Day 2: Quelland tries judge’s patience

A day after being repeatedly told by a judge to avoid long-winded answers and focus his responses to address only the question asked, Rep. Doug Quelland frustrated the court by feigning ignorance when asked basic questions.

Of course, that was only when he was being cross-examined by the attorney for the Citizens Clean Elections Commission.

At one point, Administrative Law Judge Thomas Shedden stepped in to put a stop to Quelland’s behavior. Clean Elections attorney Jose Rivera had repeatedly asked Quelland a conditional question: If the contents of an e-mail Quelland received in late 2007 were correct, then the employee of political consulting firm was doing political work for Quelland’s campaign more than six months after the lawmaker said he ended his campaign’s association with the firm.

Quelland stubbornly answered the same way each time Rivera posed the question: “If. If.”

That prompted Shedden to speak directly to Quelland.

“I’m sure you understand the nature of a question (that begins with) ‘if,’ so, if (the employee) did enter contributions into the software, would that be political work?” Shedden said.

The lawmaker quickly responded, “Yes.”

Later, Quelland professed not to know the name of his campaign committee in last year’s election. At another point, Rivera had to walk him through a printout of an e-mail and explain the various lines denoting who sent the message, who received it, when it was sent and what was attached.

That last incident came after Quelland had been asked about a number of other e-mail messages during his testimony.

When his own attorney, Tim Casey, posed questions to Quelland this morning and this afternoon, the lawmaker’s answers came without any hesitation. Unlike during Rivera’s questioning, Quelland rarely asked his attorney to re-phrase a question or professed not to understand what was being asked.

During the three-hour cross-examination, Rivera pressed Quelland for an explanation of how a political consulting firm he claimed to have fired was doing campaign work within weeks of the 2008 general election.
Quelland said he believed the employees of Intermedia Public Relations were volunteering their services, which included designing fliers, organizing campaign events and being signatory to the campaign’s debit card.

He said he terminated an agreement with Intermedia only two days after it was signed in March 2007. The agreement was for $15,000 over 13 months.

But the Clean Elections Commission determined in April that Quelland paid for the political consulting through his business. As evidence, they point to checks Quelland’s business wrote to Intermedia on the dates and for the amounts specified in the contract totaling $9,000. The remainder was paid through free rental space for Intermedia in the lawmaker’s strip mall.

And although Quelland refuted that story, he could produce no evidence to support his claims. He said that he spoke with the company’s owner, Larry Davis, and employees about appearances that the firm was providing campaign services on multiple occasions, but never had any witnesses.

“Amazing how no one’s ever around to corroborate it,” Rivera said.

Testimony in the administrative appeal ended today and closing arguments will be filed with the court by Oct. 13. Shedden said he would issue a ruling by Nov. 10. That ruling, however, will not be binding. Under state law, the Clean Elections Commission can accept, reject or modify an administrative court’s ruling.

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