Watchdog Files FEC Complaint Against Susan B. Anthony List for Filing False Reports, Accepting Illegal Loan
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 5, 2019
Contact: Bryan Dewan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) seeking an investigation into a PAC operated by the Susan B. Anthony List (SBA List), and a conservative marketing firm, The Lukens Company. The PAC, the Susan B. Anthony List Inc. Candidate Fund, appears to have violated the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and FEC regulations by filing inaccurate campaign finance reports and accepting an illegal corporate contribution from The Lukens Company.
CfA Counsel Alice Huling said, “SBA List’s PAC appears to have filed inaccurate campaign finance reports with the FEC and accepted an illegal contribution from a conservative marketing company headquartered in the same building. SBA List will let nothing stand in its way – even federal election law – in its efforts to deny access to abortion. The FEC should audit SBA List’s PAC and hold the group accountable if it violated federal law.”
The Susan B. Anthony List Inc. Candidate Fund is one of several PACs operated by SBA List. Robert Kania II, a Pittsburgh businessman, previously served as the treasurer of the Candidate Fund and continues to serve as the treasurer of SBA List’s 501c3 nonprofit. Mr. Kania was removed from his role as treasurer of the PAC in May 2019 after CfA filed a complaint regarding Mr. Kania’s failure to follow Pennsylvania campaign finance laws.
In 2018, Mr. Kania filed several campaign finance reports on behalf of the Candidate Fund that appear to be inaccurate. In September 2018, Mr. Kania filed the Candidate Fund’s monthly FEC report disclosing a $17,326.62 payment to The Lukens Company for three election mailers supporting three U.S. Senate candidates. Similarly, in October 2018, Mr. Kania reported that the Candidate Fund had paid an additional $24,154.26 to The Lukens Company for four election mailers supporting congressional candidates.
The Candidate Fund, however, did not pay The Lukens Company for the mailers, despite what Mr. Kania reported to the FEC. Instead, The Lukens Company apparently made an illegal corporate contribution to the Candidate Fund for the election mailers, and Mr. Kania falsely reported this as Candidate Fund expenditures for The Lukens Company’s services.
In October 2018, Mr. Kania reported that the Candidate Fund received a $68,988.94 loan from The Lukens Company. It appears that this reported loan included the previous misreported expenditures from the Candidate Fund’s September and October monthly reports, plus additional funds. Notably, the SBA List and The Lukens Company are headquartered in the same building and have been business partners for at least a decade.
After Mr. Kania disclosed the loan, the FEC sent two letters to Mr. Kania, in his role as treasurer of the Candidate Fund, informing him that the loan constituted an illegal corporate contribution and requested an explanation. FECA and FEC regulations prohibit political committees from knowingly accepting or receiving a contribution – including a loan – from a corporation. It is also illegal for any officer of a corporation to consent to making a corporate contribution to a political committee.
The Candidate Fund subsequently removed Mr. Kania as Treasurer and filed amended versions of multiple FEC reports claiming the loan was in fact outstanding debt owed to The Lukens Company.
Furthermore, by relying on inaccurate monthly statements, it appears the Candidate Fund also understated its cash on hand on its disclosures. FECA and FEC regulations require all political committees to accurately disclose their amount of cash on hand as well as all expenditures in excess of $200.
Ms. Huling continued, “Susan B. Anthony List is a powerful organization with deep ties to anti-choice politicians and powerbrokers. Yet SBA List appears to be playing fast and loose with campaign finance laws while gaslighting regulators to cover up its mistakes. The Lukens Company may also be breaking the law to subsidize a political committee with corporate funds – something conservative direct mail vendors have been doing for years with no accountability. If the Candidate Fund, Robert Kania, or The Lukens Company broke the law, they need to 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.