FEC Must Act to Keep Loophole Closed So Congressional Candidates Can’t Evade Contribution Limits
PHOENIX – Debbie Lesko, a congressional candidate for Arizona’s eighth district, illegally funneled $50,000 from her state campaign fund to a super PAC supporting her congressional race, according to a complaint Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
The complaint asks the FEC to investigate Lesko, her state campaign committee, and a super PAC called Conservative Leadership for Arizona, which was wholly funded by Lesko and appears to have been created for the sole purpose of supporting her Congressional run.
The Conservative Leadership for Arizona super PAC was formed on January 10, 2018, and eight days later received $50,000 from Lesko’s state campaign account—effectively all of the super PAC’s funding—and then spent those funds on polling, voter contact mail and road signs supporting Lesko.
“Congressional candidates cannot use state campaign funds to support their federal candidacy, and Lesko’s scheme is a form of political money laundering that the FEC must address,” said Brendan Fischer, director, federal and FEC reform at CLC. “Lesko’s willingness to engage in such a blatantly illegal scheme might suggest that the perceived costs of a future FEC fine don’t outweigh the benefits of funding a supporting super PAC, but that is all the more reason for the FEC to take these violations seriously.”
Under federal law, Lesko could transfer no more than $5,000 to the PAC from her state committee; moreover, because the PAC was entirely funded by Lesko, it too could only accept up to $5,000.