Marcus Brandon, NC State Representative and a congressional candidate paid a penalty of $5,000 for prohibited contributions to his state campaign committee, and may have used another prohibited payment to do so. Brandon, a Democratic primary candidate for the Congressional District 12 elections, used a check drawn on the account of his congressional campaign to satisfy the penalty imposed by the NC State Board of Elections (NCSBE) as part of an ongoing audit.
The $5,000 check was given to the NCSBE on February 28th to be paid directly into the NC Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund on March 1st, and reported as disbursed for “penalties and fees” in a quarterly report to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) by the Marcus Brandon for US Congress committee. Brandon is not running for re-election to his state seat.
A FEC representative said by phone that this would appear to be an improper conversion of campaign funds to personal use. The NCSBE confirmed the purpose of the check and provided a copy along with a copy of the receipt which described it as being for “prohibited contributions”.
While federal law does allow contributions by federal candidate committees to state candidate committees, the law also requires that all funds donated to a State officeholder who is also a candidate for federal office be deposited into an account of the officeholder’s principal campaign committee, or other authorized committee, and makes no provision for indirect contributions.
In addition, a contribution or donation “shall be considered to be converted to personal use if the contribution or amount is used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign or individual’s duties as a holder of Federal office.” 2 U.S.C. §439a(b)(2).