Jefferson Marketing, Inc.

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Jefferson Marketing, Inc. (JMI) was once part of a "multimillion dollar political empire of corporations, foundations, political action committees and ad hoc groups built up" by Jesse Helms (R-NC), Tom Ellis and R.E. Carter Wrenn. [1]

In its day, JMI was "viewed by many as one of the most ingenious political inventions in recent memory. It [was] in effect, a corporate organization geared to providing conservative candidates and causes the computerized technology of the 1980s." [2]

JMI was housed "in a nondescript, three-story building in a North Raleigh office complex." Following its co-prosecution by the Federal Election Commission with the National Congressional Club in 1986, JMI "absorbed much of the staff and past Helms campaigns under the protective cover of a private corporation, ... [taking] over such key activities as direct mail, [staffing] phone banks, automated telemarketing and the production and placement of commercials." [3]

"Linking all these and a host of other groups ... [was] a system of interlocking directorates in which Ellis and Wrenn are consistently the central players." Ellis was "chairman of the national Congressional Club; principal stock-holder and a board member of the tax-exempt, non-profit Educational Support Foundation that in turn [owned] Jefferson Marketing and appointed the officers and directors of Jefferson Marketing; a 'founder' of Fairness in Media, and chairman of the Coalition for Freedom, a tax-exempt foundation whose goal [was] to finance conservative-oriented television programs. Wrenn [held] identical positions, except that he [was] executive director and treasurer of the National Congressional Club and treasurer of the Coalition for Freedom." [4]

The FEC suit the alleged that "Wrenn, Ellis and other NCC officials [exercised control of] Jefferson Marketing, and that Wrenn ... exercised 'domination and control over the day-to-day operations of Jefferson Marketing. Thus... Jefferson Marketing and the Congressional Club are a single entity.' A legal ruling to that effect [meant] both Jefferson Marketing and the NCC have violated federal election laws." [5]

In 1978 while workinn as a lawyer at Covington & Burling John R. Bolton helped Sen. Helms' National Congressional Club form Jefferson Marketing. Legal Times reported in 1989 that Jefferson Marketing was created "as a vehicle to supply candidates with such services as advertising and direct mail without having to worry about the federal laws preventing PACs, like the Congressional Club, from contributing more than $5,000 per election to any one candidate's campaign committee".

He later defended the club against charges from the FEC that led to a $10,000 fine in 1986. In February 1990 Charles Babington wrote in Legal Times that several Democratic lawyers noted that Senator Helms "has helped the career of John Bolton, a former Covington partner who handled most of the Congressional Club work when he was at the firm ... Helms, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, supported him for both jobs."

External links

  • James Lyons, "Congressional Club, Once Mighty, in Deep Debt," Legal Times, November 23, 1987;
  • Gregory Gordon, "Government suit charges Rep. Rose with disclosure violations", United Press International, May 19, 1989.
  • Charles Babington, "Helms PAC's Debt to Covington Lingers", Legal Times, February 19, 1990.