Democrats mounted a concerted, if futile, attempt to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) this November by way of challenger Amy McGrath. Despite her best efforts, however, McGrath came up grossly short — and now, it seems that devastating loss isn’t her only problem.
According to Breitbart, a new complaint filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) accuses McGrath of violating campaign finance laws during her failed bid for a seat in the U.S. Senate.
The complaint, put forth by a watchdog group called the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), alleges that McGrath’s campaign team illegally and “strategically” coordinated advertising with a super PAC known as Ditch Fund that was supporting her candidacy.
The complaint also claims that upwards of $8 million was spent by Ditch Fund in support of McGrath’s campaign, including through an alleged shell company designed to disguise the connection, Breitbart reported.
“A conduit for coordination”
According to the complaint, the McGrath campaign placed its ads through a Washington-based firm known as Buying Time LLC, while Ditch Fund placed ads through a firm known as Targeted Platform Media. Both firms are headed by the same individual — identified by Law & Crime as Catherine Herrick — and share a mailing address as well as fax and phone numbers.
As the CLC explained in its complaint, “FEC rules limit how a vendor may work for both a candidate and an outside group supporting that candidate to prevent a vendor from being used as a conduit for coordination.”
“Otherwise, the common vendor could funnel strategic information to the outside group,” the complaint adds.
Acting as “arms of campaigns”
In its complaint, the CLC insisted that such restrictions are put in place to ensure “independence” among campaigns and super PACs.
“Using a shell company to get inside information and coordinate their advertisements created an unfair advantage, violated the law, and may have resulted in millions of dollars in illegal and excessive in-kind contributions,” the CLC argued.
“Super PACs are not supposed to act as arms of campaigns. The FEC should make that clear by enforcing the law here,” the watchdog group added. “To reduce political corruption, we need real transparency about who is spending big money on elections so that politicians can no longer receive unlimited secret money from wealthy special interests to support their campaigns.”
“A firewall inside their own head”
In a statement to Law & Crime, CLC’s federal reform director, Brendan Fischer, doubled down.
“Super PACs can only raise and spend unlimited amounts if they are completely independent of the campaigns they support,” he said. “A vendor cannot possibly separate its work for a super PAC from its work for a campaign when the same person is placing ads for both — an employee cannot create a firewall inside their own head.”