Two nonprofit groups have asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate whether Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) violated campaign finance law by soliciting House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to make a large contribution to a super PAC.
Roll Call first reported that Schock asked Cantor to make a $25,000 donation to an anti-incumbent super PAC to aid Rep. Adam Kinzinger (Ill.) in his successful GOP primary against Rep. Don Manzullo.
Now, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 argue that the solicitation is illegal. They filed a complaint with the FEC today stating that federal law and a memo from the FEC place a $5,000 limit on solicitations for super PACs by federally elected politicians.
“It appears to be a clear violation of the law,” said Paul S. Ryan, a lawyer for the Campaign Legal Center. “Here we have a federal office holder who clearly and admittedly solicited a campaign donation of $25,000 for a super PAC. This is a slam-dunk in our view.”
The Schock campaign said: "This is not unexpected. We look forward to responding to this report during the FEC's consideration of the matter. We are completely confident that when the FEC examines the facts, they will reach the right conclusion and find no violation occurred and dismiss it."
Cantor’s campaign staff did not immediately return requests for comment.
Cantor campaign spokesman Ray Allen told Roll Call earlier this month that Schock approached Cantor in March and asked that he make a matching $25,000 donation to the Campaign for Primary Accountability.
Schock’s staff has denied that he violated any laws, however. A spokesman said in a statement earlier this month that Schock did his due diligence before asking for the donation.
“Congressman Schock vetted this question through an attorney specializing in FEC compliance beforehand, and the giving and soliciting of‘hard money’ [campaign funds raised wholly within federal campaign finance laws] is completely within the law,” Schock’s spokesman said in an email.
After the FEC receives the complaint, it will reach out to Schock, at which time he will have 15 days to explain why the commission should not investigate. The FEC commissioners will then vote on whether to proceed with an investigation.
An FEC spokeswoman said the commission has not yet received the complaint and that the agency does not comment on investigations.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.