Wed December 4, 2013
FEC: Mitch McConnell Campaign Contributions Appear to Exceed Legal Limits
The Federal Election Commission is threatening to audit Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell's re-election campaign over excessive contributions from individuals and political action committees.
Under federal law, an individual or a single-candidate PAC can donate up to $2,600 per election to a candidate seeking federal office. A multi-candidate PAC is allowed to contribute up to $5,000.
The FEC lists a dozen of McConnell's individual donors who apparently exceeded their contribution limits by a total of $15,400.
In a Dec. 3 letter to McConnell campaign treasurer Larry Steinberg, the FEC warns that an audit of its finances and legal action could be taken if the report is not amended.
In some cases, individuals replicated their maximum donation amount within a two-year period. One donor, Larry Hochberg, is listed giving the McConnell campaign $2,500 in August 2011 and another $2,600 in September 2013.
The FEC also cites six multi-candidate PACs that gave a total of $19,000 over the legal amount.
Another group, Offshore Marine Service Association PAC, donated $5,000 to McConnell's re-election in August. But it is designated as a single candidate committee, which means it gave an excess of $2,400 to McConnell.
"Please be reminded that all refunds, re-designations and re-attributions must be made within 60 days of receipt of the contribution. To date, one or more of the apparent excessive contributions have not been refunded, re-designated or re-attributed," the FEC says.
The McConnell campaign has until Jan. 7 to reply.
McConnell has been an outspoken critic of campaign contribution limits, arguing it limits First Amendment rights. Earlier this year, the GOP leader's attorneys made oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court to throw out caps on how much individuals can give to political campaigns.
The senator's re-election team has raised a total of $17.7 million towards his 2014 re-election bid thus far, has just under $10 million in cash on hand.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergran Grimes also received a request for information from the FEC. In a Dec. 3 letter, the FEC asks the Grimes campaign to explain its financial reports and how it spent money on "general consulting" and "gifts."
The McConnell campaign has not responded to our request for comment.
Update 4:40 p.m.: The McConnell campaign sent WFPL the following statement:
"This is a routine compliance issue that most campaigns undergo, particularly campaigns with as many contributors as this one," says McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore. "Obviously we will ensure that all contributions that exceed limits are returned or redirected in the manner consistent with FEC guidance."