Watchdog Files Updated FEC Complaint After Senator Mike Crapo Admits to Holding 81 Events at Lobbyist’s Condo for Free
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 7, 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 supplemental 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 knowingly and willfully failing to disclose improper in-kind contributions in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and FEC regulations.
CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens stated, “For years, Sen. Crapo has been running his reelection campaign out of a lobbyist’s condo for free. After CfA filed a complaint in April alleging improper use of the condo, Sen. Crapo’s campaign committee and PAC admitted to having failed to pay to use the condo on 81 occasions. Given the number of violations, and paltry amount paid to Ms. Hart, the FEC should refer this matter to the Department of Justice for a criminal investigation.”
On April 19, 2018, CfA filed an FEC complaint against Sen. Crapo’s campaign committee and leadership PACs for failing to disclose any payments to host regular 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, and she is married to another lobbyist, J. Steven Hart. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt lived at the condo for several months, reportedly paying a well-below-market rate of $50-per-night.
On April 25, 2018, Sen. Crapo’s leadership PAC, Freedom Fund, admitted to the FEC that the PAC had violated federal laws and regulations by “failing to pay for or report the costs of the townhouse rental space” for three events in 2014 and 2017. On April 26, 2018, Sen. Crapo’s campaign committee admitted to the FEC that it had violated campaign finance laws by failing to pay for or report the cost of using the condo on 78 occasions between 2014 and 2018.
Sen. Crapo’s campaign committee claimed the use of the condo constituted an in-kind campaign contribution from Ms. Hart, which she agreed to in a letter to the campaign in 2015. The campaign, however, failed to pay for an additional 38 events held at Ms. Hart’s condo after receiving the 2015 letter. The newly disclosed agreement with Ms. Hart indicates Sen. Crapo’s campaign committee knowingly and willfully violated the law by continuing to hold events at the condo while failing to pay for the use of the space.
Finally, Sen. Crapo’s committees have not provided any explanation for why they believe the cost of using Ms. Hart’s condo should be limited to $100 per use. Campaign committees are required to pay fair market value for all goods and services. The actual fair market value of hosting events at Ms. Hart’s condo is likely considerably higher than $100 per use, potentially adding up to tens of thousands of dollars in unreported campaign contributions in violation of federal law.
Stevens continued, “Sen. Crapo appears to be drowning in the Washington swamp. He admitted that his campaign knowingly and willfully violated campaign finance laws by failing to pay to use a lobbyist’s condo for regular campaign meetings. The real question now is, what favors did Sen. Crapo provide his lobbyist landlords for giving him a free events space?”
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.