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Loaning a Campaign Cash but Not Writing It Down

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FEC records indicate Rep. Paul Broun’s campaign paid him nearly $29,000 in “operating expenses/loan interest” in 2010.

Correction Appended

Members of Congress have discovered another way to err on their annual financial disclosure reports. 

More than a dozen Members have failed to disclose personal loans that they made to their campaigns — often omitting tens of thousands of dollars in assets from their reports in the process, a Roll Call analysis found.

The review, which relied on campaign finance reports and financial disclosures filed with the House and Senate, included only current Members.

According to an instruction manual published by the House Ethics Committee that accompanies the annual disclosure form, Members and candidates must disclose whether they have issued any loans valued at more than $1,000 to their election campaign. 

“Loans to a campaign committee must be disclosed if interest is being charged,” the manual states. The loans are categorized as assets, and Members list such loans along with items such as saving accounts, stocks, bonds and investment real estate.

The Senate Ethics Committee’s version of the instructions does not include a specific reference to campaign loans, although Members are instructed to disclose any “accounts receivable,” which include such loans. 

It is not unusual for candidates to loan their campaigns money, and records provided by the Federal Election Commission show nearly 1,000 candidates did so in the 2010 cycle, including about 80 Members of the 112th Congress, whose loans ranged in value from $600 to almost $600,000.

Most of those lawmakers did not charge their campaigns interest for the loans, which is not required when the Member makes the loan, rather than a bank. Among the handful that did charge interest, however, a half-dozen failed to report those loans on their financial disclosure forms as required.

More than a dozen additional Members had similar reporting discrepancies based on FEC reports and financial disclosures filed with the House or Senate for elections dating to 2002. 

Rep. Laura Richardson reported issuing her campaign three loans totaling $77,500 in 2007. Campaign finance reports show each loan carried a .0775 percent interest rate, and the California Democrat received $9,542 in interest payments when the loans were closed in 2009.

The loans do not appear on her financial disclosure reports for any of those years.

FEC records indicate Rep. Paul Broun’s campaign paid the Georgia Republican nearly $29,000 in “operating expenses/loan interest” in 2010. Although that income would not appear on his most recent financial disclosure, which covers calendar year 2009, the loans that he made should have appeared on a prior financial disclosure if he was charging interest.

According to FEC records, Broun made at least three loans to his campaign in the 2008 cycle, although those files indicate that Broun did not charge interest on those loans, so he was not required to disclose them on his personal financial report.

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