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Mark Kirk’s 2010 Campaign Payments to Girlfriend Draw Scrutiny

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sen. Mark Kirk’s ex-wife filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission last year. The Senator’s office says it is a “baseless complaint” and a “personal attack.”

“While Senator Kirk and Ms. Vertolli divorced amicably three years ago and she actively supported Mr. Kirk’s 2010 Senate campaign, Ms. Vertolli has since filed a baseless complaint consisting of bitter personal attacks and is attempting to involve a federal agency in a divorce settled 36 months ago,” spokesman Eric Elk said.   “We responded to the FEC on December 31, 2011, and are confident that the Commission will dismiss the complaint.”

In its December response, Kirk’s campaign argued that the payments to McCracken did not have to be disclosed because only checks written to primary contractors must be reported.

Though attorneys agreed with that interpretation, one told Roll Call that by combining a campaign’s duty to report all receipts and disbursements with a statute criminalizing making false statements to the federal government, an argument could be made that the intentional obfuscation of campaign disbursements is a crime.

Still, campaign committees have “a lot of latitude” in how they set up and pay for the services of their vendors, one expert said.

FEC spokesman Christian Hilland confirmed that the commission had received Vertolli’s complaint but said it would not make a public statement on the case until the matter is resolved.

After the commission closes a case, it posts the original complaint and any related documents on its website within 30 days.

According to an annual report it files with Congress, the FEC closed 145 cases during its last fiscal year in an average of 10.1 months per case. Nearly 90 percent of the commission’s matters were closed within a 15-month period.

Kirk suffered a stroke in January and was released from a rehabilitation center earlier this month. He is continuing his recovery as he resumes Congressional duties.

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