Bribes, Payoffs, Politics: Campaign Finance Abuse Complaint Letter to FEC

Campaign Finance Abuse Complaint Letter to FEC


Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Federal Election Commission
999 E Street NW
Washington DC 20463

To Whom It May Concern:

This letter serves as formal notice to the Federal Election Committee (“FEC”) that New Jersey’s 13th District Congressman, Robert “Bob” Menendez (“Mr. Menendez”) is in direct violation of 11CFR Part 300, Subpart D, “Candidates and Officeholders/” BCRA places limits on the amounts and types of funds that can be raised by Federal candidates and Officeholders for both Federal and State candidates (See 2 USC 444 I (e)). The regulations that address these limitations are found in 11 CFR, Part 300 Subpart D (“Code”).

In § 300,60 the Code mandates that restrictions apply only to “Federal candidates and officeholders, their agents, and entities directly or indirectly established, maintained, or controlled by, or acting on behalf of, any such candidates(s) or officeholders(s).” It is beyond contention that Mr. Menendez holds a Federal office and therefore a recitation of the definition of “Federal Office” will be dispensed with. In addition\, Donald Scarinci is Mr. Menendez’ long time friend and Treasurer and otherwise agent, and therefore his conduct is limited by the rule as well.

Pursuant to Code § 300.61, a Federal candidate or officeholder is prohibited from, soliciting, receiving, directing, transferring, or spending non-federal funds in connection with an election for federal office, including funds for any federal election activity described in 11 CFR 100.24. (After opening this section to debate, the Commission added the word “disburse” to the list of covered activities in § 300.61).

Importantly, according to Code § 300.62, any federal candidate or officeholder, his or her agent, successors or assigns is prohibited from:
[r]aising, receiving, directing, transferring, or spending or disbursing funds in connection with any non-federal election, unless the funds are not in excess amounts permitted with respect to contributions to candidates and political committees and are not from sources prohibited by the act from making contributions in
connection with federal elections. (See, 2 USC 441 (I)(e)(1)(B).

In their comments for this provision, and specifically in connection with the restrictions on the solicitation and spending of non-federal funds by federal officeholders, the co-sponsors of the bill stated that these provisions were part of a “system of prohibitions and limitations on the ability of federal officeholders and candidates, to raise, spend and control soft money [in order] to stop the use of soft money as a means of buying influence and access with federal officeholders and candidates.” See 148 Cong. Rec. S2139 (Daily Ed. March 20, 2002) (Statement of Sen. McCain).

Accordingly, the Commission has allowed candidates to solicit, receive, direct, transfer, spend or disburse funds in connection with federal and non-federal elections only from sources permitted under the Act and pursuant to the Acts combined amounts and contribution limits. The Commission is also of the opinion that Code § 300.62 does not permit federal candidates and officeholders to utilize non-federal funds for federal elections.

There are several exceptions to the fundraising prohibitions for non-federal candidates, as well as for federal candidates and officeholders attending, speaking, or appearing as a featured guest at fundraising events. (See, respectively 11 CFR 300.63 and 300.64).

After much debate as to the proper involvement a federal candidate may have at a fundraising event. The following is an excerpt from the Federal Register, Vol. 67, No. 145, Monday, July 29, 2002, Rules and Regulations, and is directly on point:

“Accordingly, candidates and officeholders are free under the rules to speak at such functions without regulation or restriction…The Commission concludes, however, that federal candidates and officeholders are prohibited from serving as “Host Committees” for a party fundraising event or from personally signing a solicitation
in connection with a state, local, or district party fundraising event, on the basis that these pre-event activities and outside the permissible activities described above flowing from a federal candidate or officeholder’s appearance or attendance at the event. “

Congressman Bob Menendez has directly solicited funds for the Hudson County Democratic Committee and has even employed his agent, Donald Scarinci, to do the same.

In addition, Mr. Menendez, along with Donald Scarinci, controls the fundraising apparatus of the Hudson County Democratic Committee. In this vein, Mr. Menendez does more than speak at these fundraising events, he organizes them. Certainly, the Congressman’s name is not directly connected with these fundraising efforts; it is clear from the sameness of their donor base that Donald Scarinci is acting on direct orders from the Congressman. Finally, the Congressman’s action, along with Donald Scarinci is in direct violation of the spirit of the Act. Countless people considering make a contribution to a different organization, one not a part of the Congressman’s inner circle, have been threatened and told to re-evaluate whence their hard-earned dollars should b spent.

It is clear that the law was established just so these types of actions would not be utilized. It is clear that Mr. Menendez, perhaps because of the reputation of Hudson County politics thinks that the law does not apply to him. But it does and I humbly request you investigate Mr. Menendez’ and his agent, Donald Scarinci’s activities with respect to his illegal fundraising.

Very Truly Yours,
Reverend Edward Allen

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