WASHINGTON The New Hampshire Democratic Party announced this morning that it is filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Republican Mitt Romney violated campaign finance laws by using large contributions given to a series of state PACs to fund his presidential ambitions.
The complaint asks the commission to investigate and cites a Boston Globe story published earlier this month that outlined Romney's state committee fund-raising system.
By using committees set up in individual states with no contribution limits, Romney was able to get around individual federal contribution limits of $5,000 per year. Through state committees in Alabama, Iowa, Michigan, South Carolina, and New Hampshire, the former Massachusetts governor raised large contributions totaling $1.62 million from 43 individuals in 2009 and 2010. That's an average contribution amount of $37,700.
Typically such committees are set up to support candidates or causes in those states but in Romney's case, most of the state committees' money was transferred to his federal committee to pay for the overhead costs of his political operation, including staff salaries, political consultants, and travel expenses.
The New Hampshire Democratic Party is alleging that the money collected by the state PACs actually was used to fund his federal candidacy and therefore should have been subject to the $5,000 limit imposed by federal campaign finance law.
Party spokeswoman Holly Shulman said in a press release announcing the complaint that Romney's state PAC fund-raising system "reeks of an Enron-style accounting scheme.
"Mitt Romney just wants to be president plain and simple and he'll take any position, say anything or do anything to get there," she said.
A spokeswoman for Romney told the Globe earlier this month that no violations occurred. And today, she dismissed the lawsuit.
"This is totally political. For those wondering what the Obama jobs plan entails, it apparently involves hiring more lawyers at the FEC to handle frivolous complaints filed by his minions," said Andrea Saul, who was spokeswoman for the committees at the time and is now working for Romney's presidential exploratory committee.
A copy of the FEC complaint is here.
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About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.