FEC Fines Ex-Rep. Wynn for Campaign Finance Violations

Posted July 9, 2010 at 11:07am

The Federal Election Commission hit ex-Rep. Al Wynn (D-Md.) with an $8,000 fine last month for violating campaign finance laws, after the former lawmaker failed to refund more than $115,000 in donations earmarked for the 2008 general election.

According to a June 14 letter, Wynn’s campaign ran afoul of campaign finance laws following his 2008 Democratic primary loss to now-Rep. Donna Edwards.

Although candidates are allowed to simultaneously raise funds for both general and primary elections, a candidate must return contributions made for the general election if he or she loses the primary contest.

Candidates are also barred from using funds raised for the general election to pay for debts incurred during a primary contest.

The FEC’s investigation found that Wynn’s campaign did not return funds earmarked for the general election — which also resulted in donors exceeding contribution limits because each had already maxed out for the primary campaign, the FEC said — and also used general election funds to pay for primary election-related costs.

“In ordinary circumstances, the Commission would seek a substantially higher civil penalty based on the violations outlined in this agreement,” the FEC stated. “However, the Commission is taking into account the fact that the Committee is defunct, has no cash on hand according to the evidence available, and has a limited ability to raise any additional funds.”

But the FEC’s conciliation agreement added that if Wynn, now a senior adviser at Dickstein Shapiro, seeks federal office in the future he must pay an additional $12,000 fine as well as refund $115,000 to donors or to the U.S. Treasury.

In a May 22 letter, the FEC similar demanded ex-Rep. Robert Wexler (D-Fla.) refund an unspecified amount to donors to his 2010 general election campaign because the Florida Democrat, who resigned from the House in December, is not a candidate.