Sen. Brown Facing FEC Complaint

A complaint has been filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown, alleging solicitation and acceptance of excessive contributions in his re-election campaign against GOP nominee Bernie Moreno. The complaint, filed by the nonpartisan ethics watchdog organization, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), accuses Brown and his campaign of violating federal campaign finance laws.

The 11-page complaint is based on public campaign finance reports and current fundraising appeals. It specifically addresses two key issues. The first is the solicitation of donations for Brown’s uncontested primary election campaign, despite having no outstanding debts from the primary. The second is the use of donations to the Ohio Democratic Party, with an express designation for supporting Brown’s general election campaign.

According to FACT’s executive director, Kendra Arnold, it is important for the law to be strictly enforced against all candidates, but it is especially egregious when a long-serving U.S. Senator appears to be violating it. She emphasized that the public has placed their trust in Brown, and these allegations may damage that trust.

The complaint argues that Brown and his campaign have been soliciting contributions above the legal limit set by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA) and its implementing regulations.

Despite having no primary election debts, the campaign has continued to actively solicit contributions designated for the primary. This, according to FACT, may be a violation of 52 U.S.C. §§ 30116(a)(1), 30116(f), and § 30125(e), and 11 C.F.R. §§ 110.1(b) and 110.9.

The second issue raised in the complaint is contributor knowledge. FACT alleges that donors to the Ohio Democratic Party, through the Brown JFC (Friends of Sherrod Brown, Ohio Democratic Party, and Ohio Grassroots Victory Fund), were aware that their funds would be used specifically for Brown’s general election campaign.

This, according to the complaint, should qualify as an express “earmark” under the FEC’s definition and should be considered as contributions to Brown’s campaign, rather than the state party.

Based on these allegations, FACT is calling for an immediate investigation by the FEC and is asking for appropriate sanctions and penalties to deter future violations. Additionally, they are requesting an injunction to prevent the campaign from committing any further violations and for the FEC to seek other necessary remedies.

Brown, who has been in office since 2007, has yet to respond to the allegations. Whether or not the FEC chooses to pursue an investigation and what actions they may take, remains to be seen. But, as the complaint states, it is important for all candidates to adhere to campaign finance laws in order to maintain the integrity and fairness of the election process.


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