Wright McLeod, an Evans lawyer who lost a 2012 Republican primary for Georgia’s 12th Congressional District, has been cleared of allegations about discrepancies in his campaign financial disclosures.
The Federal Election Commission dismissed the complaints filed by Republican rival Rick Allen, an Augusta businessman who placed second in the GOP primary runoff for the congressional seat.
In a letter to McLeod’s attorney dated Sept. 19, the FEC said it found “no reason to believe with respect to certain allegations, dismissed the remaining allegations and closed the file.”
Before the primary, Allen filed a complaint about McLeod’s campaign disclosures, and McLeod amended them at the FEC’s request.
In the amended report, several payments previously labeled “payroll” were itemized as payments to political consulting firms, a communications director, an attorney and campaign staffers.
McLeod was in violation of reporting procedures, but because of the amendments, the FEC “exercised prosecutorial discretion and dismissed the allegation,” according to an FEC legal analysis.
Allen’s complaint also said McLeod’s campaign illegally took names and addresses from Allen’s finance reports and used them for fundraising letters; underreported the fair rental value of office space that four people donated to the campaign; and inadequately described outlays for office supplies and other items.
The FEC report found no reason to believe the McLeod campaign solicited donors with information from Allen’s reports or received excessive in-kind contributions for rented office space used as a campaign headquarters.
McLeod came up a few hundred votes short of beating Allen, who lost to Lee Anderson in the runoff. Anderson lost in the general election to Democratic Rep. John Barrow.
In a news release Monday, McLeod said: “Justice prevailed. This was an unnecessary and expensive legal fight in which the ethical allegations crossed the line, even by today’s standards.”
McLeod said he was forced to focus his campaign on defending his character instead of debating issues.
In an e-mailed statement, Allen said the FEC ruling puts an end to the issue.
“I’m glad that both Wright and I can now put the 2012 campaign completely behind us and look forward to beating John Barrow next November,” he said.