Congressional Candidate Lance Harris Illegally Funnels Money to Super PAC
Washington, DC – Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that Louisiana U.S. Congressional candidate Lance Harris violated the law by using his state campaign committee to fund a federal super PAC supporting his run for Congress and illegally coordinated with that same super PAC.
Harris is a Louisiana state legislator and a candidate in Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District. On Sept. 4, 2020, Harris’ state campaign committee transferred $120,000 to the Stand for Truth super PAC. Within days of receiving those funds, the once-dormant super PAC spent over $100,000 supporting Harris. Before receiving the transfer, Stand for Truth had less than $6,000 in cash-on-hand, so the infusion of funds from Harris almost entirely financed the super PAC’s pro-Harris spending.
“Lance Harris illegally funded a federal super PAC using his state campaign funds, and the super PAC then illegally spent that money supporting Harris’ run for Congress,” said Brendan Fischer, federal reform director for CLC. “State campaign funds cannot be used in federal elections, and super PACs must operate independently of candidates, but Harris engineered a scheme to violate both of those laws.”
Federal law prohibits Congressional candidates like Harris from using state campaign funds to support their federal run for office. State-level contributions are subject to different rules than federal-level contributions. When a candidate uses funds raised under state rules, they can evade federal laws designed to guard against corruption
In addition, the evidence indicates that the Harris campaign illegally coordinated with the super PAC that received the funds. Stand for Truth ran its pro-Harris ads just days after receiving the money from Harris and hired the same vendor as the Harris campaign to research and create the pro-Harris ads. The timing and circumstances of these transfers and expenditures strongly indicate that the super PAC ran the pro-Harris ads at the request or suggestion of Harris’ campaign, and in coordination with the campaign.
Campaign finance law allows super PACs to raise unlimited amounts of money, but only if they operate independently of the candidates they support. The FEC has rules prohibiting coordination between super PACs and campaigns, which include restrictions on how a vendor may work for both a candidate and an outside group supporting that candidate. If super PACs and campaigns coordinate, then big-money contributions to the super PAC function like direct contributions to the candidate and greatly increase opportunities for corruption. Voters should know who is trying to influence their vote and our government.
The FEC must investigate and hold all parties accountable for their blatant disregard for campaign finance laws.