The Federal Election Commission wants 12th Congressional District hopeful Wright McLeod to fill gaps in a recent campaign finance report.
Failure to do so by July 23, an FEC letter told the Republican, may result in an audit or enforcement action.
The letter stems from a normal staff review of McLeod’s report, not a recent complaint by Republican rival Rick Allen, said FEC spokeswoman Judith Ingram. Commission letters about pending complaints are confidential, Ingram said.
However, the letter does support a key contention in the complaint – that McLeod’s report didn’t say who received $51,159 described merely as “payroll.”
By law, the letter notes, congressional campaigns must name and provide other information about people paid more than $200 in a calendar year.
McLeod, an Augusta lawyer, said recently that “we only listed it as payroll, which is what we were told the law requires.”
After the complaint surfaced, he gave news media the names of payees and said he’d amend his report if the FEC told him to.
Asked whether McLeod would do so now, campaign spokeswoman Holly Croft didn’t respond.
But she said the FEC letter “is not the hatchet job under the guise of a meritless ethics complaint that our opponent has leveled against us.”
She called the letter “a routine administrative request for more information that numerous campaigns also received,” including Allen and state Rep. Lee Anderson of Grovetown, another GOP candidate in the 12th District.
Scott Paradise, Allen’s campaign manager, said the FEC “has confirmed what we’ve believed for some time – Wright McLeod is in clear violation of the law.
“Instead of continuing to try to cover up these violations, it’s time that Wright McLeod finally tell the truth by admitting that he made major mistakes, including stealing our campaign’s donor list.”
Allen’s complaint also said McLeod’s campaign illegally took names and addresses from Allen’s finance reports and used them for fundraising letters, an allegation McLeod denies.
He also denies a claim he underreported the fair rental value of office space four people donated to the campaign. As a result, Allen says, each exceeded the $2,500 contribution limit for the primary.
The FEC letter to McLeod also covers another issue in the complaint – that McLeod’s report inadequately described outlays for office supplies and other items. It also sought more information on matters not discussed in the complaint.
The letters to Allen’s and Anderson’s campaigns asked for more information about an undisclosed number of contributors. It called for amended reports or evidence that the campaigns had met FEC requirements for trying to get the requested information. Both opted for the latter.
“There is no comparison of the one minor request made to us by the FEC and the four very serious, major requests made to Wright McLeod’s campaign,” said Reagan Williams, Anderson’s campaign manager.
The FEC often takes 10 months to resolve complaints, so it likely won’t act on Allen’s before the July 31 primary.