Politics

Complaint Against Crapo Over Controversial Condo

Liberal watchdog group says Idaho senator didn’t report free use of condo that caused controversy for EPA’s Pruitt

 Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, had a complaint filed against him by a liberal watchdog group. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A liberal watchdog group filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Sen. Mike Crapo for fundraisers he held at the same condominium that caused controversy for EPA administrator Scott Pruitt.

The Campaign for Accountability filed the complaint on Thursday that Crapo’s campaign committees did not report paying for the use of the condo on campaign filings, Bloomberg reported.

Campaigns are required to report contributions and expenditures worth more than $200 and using the condo for free would be considered an “in-kind” contribution.

Crapo’s committees held the fundraisers at the condo co-owned by Vicki Hart, whose husband J. Steven Hart is an energy lobbyist. Pruitt was criticized for staying at Hart’s condo for roughly $50 a night. The Campaign for Accountability also filed a complaint against Hart.

“The lobbyist owners of Scott Pruitt’s crash pad allowed Sen. Mike Crapo to host fundraisers at their Capitol Hill condo, seemingly at no cost,” Daniel Stevens, executive director of the organization, said in a statement. “Is it just a coincidence that the senator also introduced legislation that benefits the clients of the townhouse’s owners?”

The campaign also pointed to the fact J. Steven Hart is a lobbyist for the bank HSBC and Crapo is chairman of the Senate Banking Committee and promoted a bill that would loosen banking regulations in the 2010 Dodd-Frank law.

“Campaign finance laws exist to protect the integrity of our electoral system,” Stevens said. “It’s not that complicated: lobbyists can’t let senators host fundraisers at their businesses for free.”

Crapo's spokesman Robert Sumner contrasted the Idaho Republican's use of the condo with Pruitt's.

"Senator Crapo, like other members of Congress, has used the townhouse for campaign-related events, but not for the Senator’s personal use or for any overnight stays," he said in a statement.

Sumner said Crapo's campaign did an internal review and used an outside examiner to "examine the Campaign’s use of the townhouse and any resulting FEC reporting requirements."

"If necessary, the Campaign will file amended reports with the FEC to ensure compliance with campaign finance laws."

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