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CREW Files Compliant Over "Donation" to US Treasury by Sen. Landrieu's Campaign Committee
WASHINGTON - November 20 - Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint today with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) campaign committee, Friends of Mary Landrieu, Inc. The complaint concerns a mysterious $25,300 “donation” to the U.S. Treasury made last year by Sen. Landrieu’s campaign.
According to reports filed with the FEC, the senator’s campaign made the donation on August 7, 2008. The campaign committee likely discovered it had accepted illegal contributions. In such cases, campaigns generally return the contributions to the original donors. In this case, however, the committee chose to turn over the contributions to the U.S. Treasury. When asked about the payment to the Treasury, campaign committee lawyer Marc Elias refused to explain the circumstances, insisting the campaign was protecting the identity of the contributors who “are private citizens who in most instances may not have done anything wrong . . . .”
CREW executive director Melanie Sloan stated, “We all know politicians don’t give up campaign contributions – much less $25,000 – without a very good reason. It appears Sen. Landrieu’s reason may have been to avoid a scandal or, even worse, a federal investigation into some of her contributions.”
Under federal campaign finance law, the only time campaign committees can transfer an illegal contribution to the Treasury rather than return it to the original donor is when the committee learns the source of the funds: a) is under a Department of Justice investigation or indictment, or b) has been convicted for making illegal contributions. Even in such cases, a campaign committee must make the contributor’s identity public before turning the money over to the Treasury.
CREW’s complaint alleges that because there has been no suggestion of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into illegal contributions to the Landrieu campaign, the committee improperly turned the money over to the Treasury.
“Our campaign finance laws were designed to ensure transparency,” said Sloan. “Sen. Landrieu cannot ignore a law she finds inconvenient simply to save herself the embarrassment of acknowledging she received illegal campaign contributions. If Sen. Landrieu did nothing wrong, she has no reason not to come clean with the American people and explain why she turned over $25,000 in contributions to the Treasury.”