A Bryan County Democrat says U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, effectively laundered money from his state Senate campaign account through the campaign accounts of others in order to transfer it to his federal campaign account. To do so would violate federal campaign finance laws.
In her complaint sent to the Federal Election Commission, Bryan County Democratic Committee Chairwoman Lisa Ring alleges the Carter campaign coordinated with, among others, campaigns for state Sen. Ellis Black, state Rep. Bruce Broadrick, state House candidate Neal Florence, U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, state Sen. Fran Millar and state Rep. Ron Stephens in “a knowing and willful criminal scheme to sidestep this prohibition” on the transfer of nonfederal money to a federal account.
The complaint also makes note a $1,000 contribution from Carter’s state Senate account to his federal account was later corrected to show that money actually went to Broadrick. The $1,000 to Broadrick is dated May 25, 2016, and Broadrick gave Carter’s federal committee $1,000 on July 14, 2016.
Some of the contribution exchanges listed occur in a similar manner within a short time frame. For instance, Carter’s state committee sent $1,000 on to Loudermilk’s federal account on June 21, 2013, and Loudermilk’s state committee sent $1,000 to Carter’s federal account on June 25, 2013. Also, $500 from Carter’s state account went to Black on June 23, 2014, while $500 went from Black to Carter’s federal account June 27, 2014. There also is an alleged nine-day turnaround on $1,000 from Carter’s state committee to Millar and from Millar to Carter’s federal committee in September 2015.
There is also $1,000 paid to consultant David Simons by the state committee in March 2014, while Simons gave $500 contributions to the federal committee on Jan. 16, 2014 and March 31, 2014.
The dates between other alleged turnarounds can be lengthy, however. It was 17 months for the accusation regarding Stephens, nine months for the one implicating Mullis and 11 months for both the Florence allegation and one of the two Millar allegations.
Julia Queen, spokeswoman for the FEC, said in an email last week to The News the agency had yet to receive the complaint. Ring said there had been delays in getting a hard copy to the FEC, but the agency should have the complaint by the middle of this week.
Regarding the action, Carter said in a statement, “This appears to be a partisan political stunt from a local Democratic activist. Look no further than the media receiving this before the ink even dried on the signature.”
Though if a complaint against Carter from 2014 is any indication, while the most successful defense may be the truth, the second-most successful in responding to a FEC complaint could be simply having a good answer.
In the Republican primary that year, the campaign manager for Carter opponent Bob Johnson, Ryan Reynolds, filed an FEC complaint that also accused the Carter campaign of “the use of nonfederal state campaign committee funds to pay staff salaries for electioneering purposes in a federal election and transferring funds from the nonfederal committee to the candidate’s federal campaign committee.”
Reynolds’ complaint did not have any outright proof, but detailed transactions that could raise suspicion. Charles Spies, an attorney heading up the Clark Hill firm’s Washington D.C. office, responded for the campaign, stating, “The Complaint, which was evidently a last ditch effort by Johnson to gain ground against Carter is speculative, legally flawed, and should be immediately dismissed, because on its face it fails to provide any evidence of a violation of the Act.”
Spies’ response also stated the staffers in question worked on both state Senate and U.S. House duties, were explicitly told to segregate their time and activities, along with keeping logs to show what they worked on when.
Without seeing any evidence of such logs, the FEC announced in October 2014 that the answer was good enough to dismiss the complaint and close the case.