Watchdog Files Ethics Complaint Against Senator Mike Crapo for Failing to Disclose PAC Payments to His Wife

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 21, 2018

Contact: Daniel Stevens, dstevens@campaignforaccountability.org, 202.780.5750

WASHINGTON – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, filed a complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics against U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) for failing to disclose his wife’s income from his leadership PAC on his 2017 financial disclosure report.  CfA previously filed an FEC complaint against Sen. Crapo for failing to disclose any payments for the use of a lobbyist’s Capitol Hill condo for fundraising activities.

Read the complaint here.

CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens stated, “Sen. Crapo has once again ignored federal laws requiring politicians to act ethically and transparently.  Sen. Crapo’s wife received thousands of dollars from his PAC, yet Sen. Crapo failed to disclose that information on his personal financial disclosure forms as required.  It’s only been a couple of months since CfA forced Sen. Crapo to reveal he had held 81 meetings at a lobbyist’s condo without paying for the use of the space in violation of campaign finance law.  The latest revelation begs the question – is Sen. Crapo hiding any other payments to his wife?”

Throughout 2017, Sen. Crapo’s wife, Susan Crapo, was employed by both his campaign committee, Mike Crapo for U.S. Senate, and his leadership PAC, Freedom Fund.  Ms. Crapo was paid to produce handmade gifts to be distributed to contributors at fundraising events for the two political committees.  Combined, the two committees paid Ms. Crapo nearly $27,000 to produce the donor gits, including $6,276 from the Freedom Fund.

Sen. Crapo’s office recently told the Idaho Statesman, “The money was for gift bags given to paying guests at the 2015 and 2016 Hook ‘N’ Bullet and Ski Fest fundraisers.”  Ms. Crapo created several items for the gift bags including homemade baked goods, handcrafted jewelry, and textiles.  Previously, in 2016 the Federal Election Commission (FEC) investigated the Hook ‘N’ Bullet fundraiser and found Sen. Crapo’s PAC had failed to report nearly $45,000 worth of in-kind contributions. The FEC required Sen. Crapo’s PAC to pay a civil penalty totaling $12,600.

Sen. Crapo reported the 2017 payments to Ms. Crapo from both committees to the FEC, but he only disclosed the payments from his campaign committee on his 2017 Personal Financial Disclosure Form.  He did not disclose that the Freedom Fund also employed Ms. Crapo. The omission is particularly notable because Sen. Crapo had disclosed Ms. Crapo’s employment with the Freedom Fund on his 2013 and 2014 financial disclosure reports.

By failing to disclose the identity of Susan Crapo’s employer on his financial disclosure report, Senator Crapo violated both the Ethics in Government Act of 1978 and Senate Rule 34.  It is unlawful for any person to knowingly and willfully fail to report any information that is required to be reported under the Ethics in Government Act, and such a violation is punishable by a civil penalty of up to $50,000.

Stevens continued, “Sen. Crapo clearly violated federal laws by failing to disclose that Susan Crapo was employed by his leadership PAC.  The Senate Ethics Committee should open an inquiry and, if it determines the senator knowingly and willfully violated the law, the committee should refer the matter to the attorney general for further investigation.”

Campaign for Accountability is a 501(c)(3) non-profit, nonpartisan watchdog organization that uses research, litigation and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.