Utah Rep. Burgess Owens fined by FEC for undisclosed contributions

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions also fined for lapses in Alabama race

The FEC has fined Utah Rep. Burgess Owens for not disclosing last-minute campaign contributions last cycle.  (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
The FEC has fined Utah Rep. Burgess Owens for not disclosing last-minute campaign contributions last cycle. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted June 28, 2021 at 7:06pm

Utah Rep. Burgess Owens has been ordered to pay a nearly $4,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission for failing to report $34,000 in last-minute contributions to his 2020 campaign. 

The FEC also levied a $15,000 fine against the Alabama Senate campaign of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions for the same offense. 

Owens is one of 21 Republican incumbents the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting for defeat next year, as Democrats seek to maintain their narrow House majority. The former NFL defensive back flipped his Salt Lake-area district last fall, ousting Democrat Ben McAdams in one of the most closely watched House campaigns of the cycle.

So far no one has filed to oppose Owens in the next election, which will take place after new district lines are approved by the Republican-controlled state Legislature

But the fine will likely be fodder if he does face a Democratic challenger. 

Owens, a former Fox News commentator, had already attracted FEC scrutiny in August 2020 for accepting two campaign contributions that totaled $8,400 and exceeded legal limits during his 2020 campaign. 

In an October analysis, The New York Times reported that the excess contribution had been refunded, but it found other instances in which donations exceeded limits adding up to $130,000. Individuals may donate up to $2,800 to a federal candidate per election. 

Those contributions came shortly after Owens was featured in a prime speaking spot at the Republican National Convention and his campaign was flooded with about half of the $5 million that he raised through the entire cycle. 

Neither the Owens campaign nor campaign treasurer Paul Kilgore, who was named in the FEC memo outlining the violation and sent to the campaign in April, responded to requests for comment Monday. 

The campaign failed to file three separate reports required under federal law in the final 20 days before an election, according to FEC documents released last week. During certain periods of a campaign, candidates must file disclosures within 48 hours whenever a contribution of $1,000 or more is received. 

Sessions’ campaign was fined for failing to report a $150,000 loan he made in June 2020. The Alabama Republican lost a July 14 primary to Tommy Tuberville, who went on to win the general election over Sen. Doug Jones — the Democrat who won the seat Sessions vacated when he became attorney general in 2017. 

Anita Barrera, the campaign treasurer who was named in the FEC memo, did not return a request for comment Monday.