FEC fines Florida-based company for illegal contribution to support Rick Scott's 2018 campaign

Ring Power Corp. violated ban on campaign contributions from federal contractors

The New Republican PAC, which supported the 2018 campaign of Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott, shown, refunded a $50,000 contribution shortly after an FEC complaint alleged it violated a ban on donations from federal contractors. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The Federal Election Commission fined a Florida company for making an illegal campaign contribution to support Florida Sen. Rick Scott's 2018 campaign, according to documents obtained by Roll Call Tuesday. 

The $9,500 fine levied against Ring Power Corp., which sells and leases industrial machinery, represents a rare penalty for a company found to have violated a 75-year-old ban on campaign contributions from federal contractors.

Ring Power has received federal contracts and grants since 2007, according to a June 19 conciliation agreement the company reached with the FEC. The New Republican PAC, a Super PAC supporting Scott's campaign, returned the $50,000 contribution in August, shortly after the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group, filed an FEC complaint. Scott, a Republican, was governor of Florida at the time. 

"We were concerned that the FEC might allow the violation to slide because the contribution was refunded, but that didn’t happen," said Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center. "We are certainly pleased that the FEC is continuing to enforce the ban on government contractors making political contributions, which is designed to prevent pay-to-play in the contracting process."

The FEC has been subject to numerous complaints in recent years about lax enforcement and gridlock on its bipartisan panel of commissioners. 

Representatives from The New Republican PAC and Ring Power Corporation did not immediately return requests for comment Tuesday. 

The FEC found that The New Republican PAC did not knowingly solicit a contribution from a federal contractor, which would have been an additional violation. 

The New Republican PAC raised $34 million during the 2018 campaign cycle, according to FEC documents. It spent $29.5 million in opposition to Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, Scott’s opponent. It also spent $967,000 opposing Democratic Rep. Katie Porter's campaign in California. 

A separate complaint that the Campaign Legal Center filed on the same day is pending, Fischer said. That alleges that Florida-based AshBritt, Inc. was a federal contractor and made an illegal $500,000 contribution to a Super PAC supporting President Donald Trump. AshBritt founder and chairman Randy Perkins has disputed those allegations. 

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.