FEC complaint: Perry campaign illegally transferred funds to PAC

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch

A complaint filed with the Federal Elections Commission accuses U.S. Rep. Scott Perry's campaign of improperly transferring funds to a political action committee.

The complaint, filed by Cumberland County resident Daniel Caruso, alleges that Perry's campaign transferred $5,000 from Patriots for Perry, the candidate's principal committee, to First Capital PAC, his leadership committee, on June 30, 2020.

"It was basically a bookkeeping error," said Matt Beynon, Perry's campaign spokesperson. "Unfortunately, it was caught after the closing of the books for the quarter."

Beynon said the reports will be updated in the October quarterly filing.

Perry, R-Carroll Township, is running for reelection in Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional District against state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, a Democrat.

The $5,000 in question was part of a $15,000 contribution from KochPAC, the political action committee of Koch Industries Inc. KochPAC is a prominent donor to conservative and Republican candidates. 

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U.S. Representative Scott Perry (R-Pa. 10) speaks to reporters after participating in a Rotary Club of York candidate forum at the Country Club of York Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. He is seeking reelection for the 10th Congressional seat. His opponent, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, will be featured at a similar Oct. 7 event. Bill Kalina photo

The FEC acknowledges on its website that it's common for political action committees or other donors to mistakenly send contributions that exceed the federal limits. The contribution in question can be refunded to the donor, redesignated or reattributed, depending on the situation, the FEC states.

The contribution limit for a multi-candidate political action committee, such as KochPAC, is $5,000 per election to the candidate's principal committee and $5,000 per year to the candidate's associated leadership PAC.

The primary and general elections would be counted separately as two elections, meaning it would be legal to contribute $5,000 to Patriots for Perry for each election.

In this case, the complaint alleges that KochPAC contributed $15,000 in total, via three $5,000 contributions, to Patriots for Perry, when the legal limit would have been $10,000 total.

It appears KochPAC intended to give one of those $5,000 contributions to First Capital PAC, Perry's associated leadership PAC, based on the complaint, because the filing also cites reporting discrepancies between KochPAC and Perry's campaign.

Instead of refunding the extra $5,000 to KochPAC after realizing the mistake — which would have been the FEC requirement for remedying the excessive contribution — the complaint alleges Perry's campaign instead transferred the funds to First Capital PAC.

It's unclear from the complaint whether the mistake was a clerical error by KochPAC, an accounting error by Perry's campaign or some combination of both.

Contact information for KochPAC was unavailable.

Democratic congressional candidate Eugene DePasquale, of North York borough, tours businesses in York City, Saturday, Aug. 22, 2020. Dawn J. Sagert photo

A spokesperson for DePasquale's campaign declined to comment.

This past month, an FEC complaint was filed against DePasquale's campaign, alleging he used leftover funds from his state-level campaigns to jump start his congressional run.

That complaint, filed in August by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, a conservative watchdog organization, claims DePasquale used $113,050 from previous state campaign committees to pay for new political videos, social media ads and research for his congressional bid.

The FEC explicitly prohibits federal candidates from accepting funds or assets transferred from nonfederal committees.

There hasn't been a ruling on either complaint because the FEC has three vacant seats and no quorum.

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