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More FEC troubles for Bachmann?

I hadn't looked at Bachmann's FEC filings since the election, and I found that the FEC has some issues with her campaign committees' reporting.

On October 10th, the FEC sent the Bachmann for Congress a "request for additional information" relating to her pre-primary filing. Bachmann's filing was apparently missing some information on some of the contributors. It appears these problems were rectified and the campaign filed an amended report on October 16th.

This seems like a pretty standard slip-up, though it does raise concerns about the professionalism of Bachmann's staff. It seems like a mistake that many campaigns could, and probably did, make. It could also be chalked up to mistakes made by the contributors rather than the campaign itself.

However, there is another request for additional information filed November 8th regarding a transfer of $115,000 from the "MN-06 Congressional Victory Committee" (an apparent name change) to the Bachmann for Congress Committee. The transfer occurred on October 18th, the last day covered in the pre-general filing. According to the FEC, this runs afoul of regulations restricting this type of contribution to $2,100-- in other words, the transfer exceeded limits by almost $113,000.

The FEC letter states:

Schedule B of your report ... discloses one or more contributions which appear to exceed the limits set forth in the Act. 2 U.S.C. 441a(a) prohibits a non-multicandidate political committee and its affiliates, from making a contribution to a candidate for federal office in excess of $2,100 per election.

The FEC indicates that Bachmann's committee must either justify the contribution under election law, or refund it. They indicate a deadline of December 11th for Bachmann's committee to respond to the request. If an adequate response is not received, the committee may be audited or made subject to an "enforcement action."

I am not an expert by any means in election law, but this contribution does seem illegal, and the FEC seems to agree. If you have any expertise in these matters, please leave a comment explaining what you think of the legality of this contribution.

Read more about past Bachmann conflicts with the FEC here.

Comments

I don't think you have to be an election law expert to read what you posted, Pat. The Bachmann campaign has violated the law. The only question is what is the FEC going to do about it? Will Michele will have to forefeit part of her huge Congressional salary to pay this back?

The sad thing is, if she violated the law, I think she could just raise some more campaign money to pay for it.

If this is indeed a violation, it was a calculated one. They transferred that money knowing full well they could just pay it back later with additional campaign funds raised with the benefit of incumbency, and receive no penalty or a slap on the wrist from the FEC.

Can you legally raise additional campaign funds after an election? And to pay an FEC sanction?

Well, yeah, incumbents keep their campaign accounts open and are fund raising continuously for the next cycle.

I don't know that there are any restrictions on this money, though there may be. It could be that anything raised after a certain date can't be used for expenses for the last cycle. If that's the case, why are candidates like Becky Lourey still raising funds to retire campaign debt?

I'm not a specialist in campaign law but I'd say that 11 CFR 113.2 prohibits a candidate from using campaign funds to pay a penalty or fine. Wouldn't Bachmann be personally liable for a violaiton of the law? The law says that you cannot use campaign funds for personal use.

So perhaps she would be personally liable IF the FEC decides to level a fine...

However, the FEC letter states only that, if they don't prove the transfer was lawful, she must refund the money to the other account. I don't think that would be considered a fine.

Looking at the correspondence, it is premature to be talking about civil penalties. Civil penalties are imposed if there is a complaint or if the staff makes a determination of a violation in the course of an investigation.

It seems strange for a candidate to have essentialy two campaign committees which Bachmann did. It seems that there does have to be a violation if Bachmann created two committees to circumvent the limits of the law.