Watchdog Files FEC Complaint Against Senator Mike Crapo for Failing to Pay to Host Fundraisers at Lobbyist’s Capitol Hill Condo
Controversial Lobbyists Also Gave Scott Pruitt a Sweetheart Lease to Stay at the Condo
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 19, 2018
Contact: Daniel Stevens, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against U.S. Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Vicki Hart, the lobbyist owner of a Washington, D.C. condominium, for failing to disclose improper in-kind contributions, in apparent violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and FEC regulations.
CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens stated, “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. Is it just a coincidence that the senator also introduced legislation that benefits the clients of the townhouse’s owners? The FEC should investigate whether Sen. Crapo or Vicki and J. Steven Hart broke any federal laws.”
In 2017, Sen. Crapo’s campaign committee, Mike Crapo for U.S. Senate, and his leadership PACs, the Freedom Fund and the Idaho Conservative Growth Fund, held a series of monthly fundraising events at 223 C Street, N.E., Washington D.C., a condominium owned by 223 C Street, LLC. Vicki Hart, a registered lobbyist, is the governor of the LLC. Ms. Hart is married to J. Steven Hart, also a registered lobbyist and the chairman of Williams & Jensen, a large lobbying firm. Notably, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt lived at the 223 C Street condo for several months, reportedly paying a well-below-market rate of $50-per-night.
Despite holding several fundraising events at the condo, none of the fundraising committees associated with Sen. Crapo reported any payments to Ms. Hart or the LLC. Conversely, none of the committees reported receiving any in-kind contributions from 223 C Street, LLC or Ms. Hart for the use of the condo.
Additionally, Mr. Hart is a registered lobbyist for the British bank, HSBC. Between his October and November 2017 fundraisers at the condo, Sen. Crapo introduced a bill to rollback some provisions of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law. Notably, Sen. Crapo’s legislation included a provision that would have loosened regulations for foreign banks like HSBC. Sen. Crapo later amended the bill to clarify that provision, but Sen. Sherrod Brown, the Ranking Member of the Senate banking committee called the amendment a “fig leaf” designed to “convince the public that this bill doesn’t do what it actually does.”
The FECA and FEC regulations require all political committees to disclose any contributions or expenditures that exceed $200. Because Sen. Crapo’s committees failed to report any in-kind contributions from, or disbursements to, 223 C Street, LLC or Ms. Hart for the use of the condominium, the committees may have violated campaign finance law.
Furthermore, the FECA and FEC regulations prohibit corporations from contributing to campaign committees and leadership PACs, and they prohibit any officer or director of any corporation from consenting to such contributions. FEC regulations require LLCs be treated as corporations under certain circumstances. Accordingly, 223 C Street, LLC may have violated federal law by making the condominium available for Sen. Crapo’s fundraising events for free.
Stevens continued, “Campaign finance laws exist to protect the integrity of our electoral system. It’s not that complicated: lobbyists can’t let senators host fundraisers at their businesses for free. If Sen. Crapo or the lobbying power couple of Vicki and J. Steven Hart violated federal law, they should be held accountable.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit 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.