For Immediate Release
CREW Files Compliant Over "Donation" to US Treasury by Sen. Landrieu's Campaign Committee
WASHINGTON - 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
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.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.