Capitol Fax.com - Your Illinois News Radar » *** UPDATED x2 - Campaign issues “clarification” - NGP: “Simple case of user error” *** “Awful” Dem software could lead to state fines for campaign
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*** UPDATED x2 - Campaign issues “clarification” - NGP: “Simple case of user error” *** “Awful” Dem software could lead to state fines for campaign

Thursday, Sep 21, 2017

* From a letter to the Illinois State Board of Elections from Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin’s campaign treasurer

I am writing to make the State Board of Elections aware of an issue with the Friends of Richard Boykin campaign required A-1 reports. On Monday, September 18th I, the campaign treasurer, became aware that A-1’s I had filed (using NGP software) in August and early September were not showing up on the State Board of Elections website. After speaking with Tom (no last name was provided) he encouraged me to file the missing August and September A-1’s. I did so on that day. I immediately began to investigate how this happened and have discovered that the problem was much larger than ever imagined.

* So, what happened? It seems to be a problem using NGP, which is used by Democrats

Attached to this correspondence is each A-1 I filed with NPG that were never properly transmitted to the Board of Elections. Included on each A-1 is the signature date as well as the date and time stamp which was provided in my history log of all completed filing on NPG. You will see that each A-1 was indeed reported within the required time frame

What I believe has transpired and resulted in the confusion is the following. NPG has a 3 step process for filing quarterly reports and A-is. The first step is to create the form/report. Step 2 is to review the form and approve it for filing. This step requires the user to input a password. Step 3 allows the user to check a box that reads “mark as filed”. Once the report is “marked as filed” it then is added to the “history” log under a compliance tab. I completed all of these steps; however, NPG explains that “sometimes” if the user hits the “mark as filed” too quickly after completing step 2 the transmission to the board is interrupted. However the NPG software still allows the user to check the “mark as filed” box and allows the file to become part of the “history” log.

I spent an hour on the phone with Monique, our auditor from the State Board of Elections, today. She was fantastic! I explained to her concern with the fines as it appears the campaign has made several violations; however, I assure you that at the time of completing these A-1’s I 100% believed I had followed the proper procedure and that the reports were filed.

The campaign has re-filed four A-1’s containing nine contributions.

I called NGP and left a voicemail with its communications person. I also DM’d him on Twitter a while ago. No response yet.

* Political tech wiz Scott Kennedy tweeted about this today

I didn’t know this until I started calling around to people about their own problems using that software (”It’s always been a pain in the a** for our people,” said one), but our old pal Dan Johnson has started a competing business to NGP called Campaign Filer. According to the website, you can file Illinois campaign finance reports for free. But he only takes Democratic clients.

*** UPDATE 1 ***  From Lou Levine general manager of Fundraising & Compliance…

“This was a simple case of user error. We’ve been happy to work with the client to resolve any issues they have.”

*** UPDATE 2 *** Another letter to the Illinois State Board of Elections from the campaign treasurer, who I spoke with earlier and who was kind of aghast at being pulled into this controversy and not meaning to suggest that it was all the company’s fault…

September 21, 2017

State Board of Elections 2329 S. MacArthur Blvd Springfield, IL 62704

Re: Clarification

To Whom It May Concern:

On September 20, 2017, I submitted a letter of correspondence regarding errors in filing A­ l s. As a follow up to that letter, especially in light of the fact that is public information, I would like to clarify that my sole purpose in mentioning the specific name of the software we are using, NGP, was to explain what process I used to file the reports and how I fully believed they were filed in accordance with all rules. I intended my letter to show our commitment to following all election and contribution rules. Further, as of today, I used the system without error to file another A-1.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

24 Comments
  1. - Dan Johnson - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:06 pm:

    This is my favorite Capitol Fax blog post of all time.


  2. - Gruntled University Employee - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:10 pm:

    Wait until you get the bill from Rich.


  3. - Phenomynous - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:10 pm:

    “But he only takes Democratic clients.”

    Is that discrimination?


  4. - TopHatMonocle - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:14 pm:

    NGP is expensive and not great. The system the state provides is free, which is its only redeeming quality since it’s even worse than NGP. Campaign Files looks very nice in comparison.

    Phenomynous, as far as I know NGP also only works with Democrats.


  5. - Anonish - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:15 pm:

    NGP has been a pain in the butt for many, many years. Even when using just the localized Access-based version.
    My understanding is that it works very well with federal filing, but state systems everywhere is a crap-shoot.


  6. - Texas Red - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:17 pm:

    The software is about as effective as the our elected officials are.


  7. - Dan Johnson - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:19 pm:

    Haha - you’re right employee. The karma bank account just got emptied.

    And to be even more crass: free trial accounts for third quarter filing if you mention the passcode “Miller’s beard”


  8. - titan - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:19 pm:

    It should probably be noted that the NGP software is a third party item that the vendor says is supposed to work with the state’s IDIS system.

    It is not necessary to use any third party software to interact with the IDIS system.


  9. - @MisterJayEm - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:20 pm:

    “But he only takes Democratic clients.”

    Is that discrimination?

    BREAKING: Partisan operations are partisan.

    More news as this develops…

    – MrJM


  10. - CICOM Chief - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:27 pm:

    NGP has many issues, but I’ve always checked the state board immediately to make sure each filing was transmitted successfully.


  11. - JoeMaddon - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:30 pm:

    Yup - what CICOM Chief says.

    NGP sucks… but one thing that I ALWAYS do after filing on NGP is to look it up on the State Board of Elections website to make sure it got filed. Basic checks solve most problems.


  12. - JoanP - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:31 pm:

    Ain’t technology grand?


  13. - Shytown - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:38 pm:

    NGP sucks


  14. - Philososaurus - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:43 pm:

    A 5 year old somehwere posesses the requisite skills to imlpment verification and syncing. Since when was the internet unidirectional!?


  15. - Anon and on - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 3:51 pm:

    It may be a technical glitch with the campaign’s chosen software, but that still didn’t satisfy the statutory requirement. I’ve seen campaigns hit with a hefty fine for missing the A-1 deadline by hours two quarters before election day. I hope the board reads through this “dog ate my homework” excuse.


  16. - Happy Campaign Treasurer - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 4:13 pm:

    I do the reporting for 6 committees. I use Illinois based E.L.E.C.T. software (www.electinc.com) for all of them and have never had a problem.


  17. - City Zen - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 4:32 pm:

    All filings with NGP will be diminished or impaired. And it only took $2.8M to figure it out…

    http://bit.ly/2hmuKdc


  18. - RNUG - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 4:45 pm:

    == Since when was the internet unidirectional!? ==

    From day one.

    I know this was intended as snark but … every transaction on the Internet is asynchronous, meaning you have no assurance it reached the intended recipient and was processed. I could go into the history of why it is, but that’s just the way it was designed.

    If you grew up in a synchronous telecommunications environment like I did, this just gives you the shakes. Properly designed software can mostly overcome this deficiency, but incorrect design can lead to transactions just being thrown away due to overload and timing / sequence issues. If it is a critical transaction, you always do a confirmation.

    We now return to the regularly scheduled comments.


  19. - GoldCoastLiberal - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 4:49 pm:

    I’ve worked on campaigns for years and have *never* had a problem with NGP - pretty sure this person just didnt know what they were doing


  20. - Yellow Dog Democrat - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 5:01 pm:

    NGP to Boykin: you can withdraw your claim that our software sucks, or we can disable your account indefinitely while we try to figure out the problem. Which would you prefer?


  21. - Chicago Dem Fundraiser - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 5:08 pm:

    NGP is for fundraisers AND for reporting. But the state software does NOT do anything we need to help candidates actually run a successful fundraising operation. It’s a bonus that the reporting can be done from there as well as it means less work for the team. But the system, when used correctly works for all aspects it’s intended for, again, when used correctly.


  22. - honeybadger - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 5:36 pm:

    I have been doing ISBOE filings for the last 12 years and have only had minor issues, but they were mistakes on my end that were corrected immediately. I will gladly retire and take over the filings for whatever candidate needs help for the right price and health insurance.


  23. - Michael Westen - Thursday, Sep 21, 17 @ 6:05 pm:

    Why not just use IDIS on the State Board website? I’ve never had a problem using it. No reason to go through a third-party and risk mistakes.


  24. - C L Ball - Friday, Sep 22, 17 @ 9:09 am:

    “NPG explains that “sometimes” if the user hits the “mark as filed” too quickly after completing step 2 the transmission to the board is interrupted.”

    How is this a user error?


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