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Eye On Boise

Crapo on list of top three senators for taking contributions that exceed limits

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: MIAMI (AP) — Three U.S. Senate candidates are responsible for nearly half the notices the Federal Election Commission has issued in the past year for taking contributions that appear to exceed federal limits. An Associated Press analysis found that GOP candidates Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho have received four notices each, while New York's Democratic senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, got three. Thirteen other candidates have received one notice each. There are 75 major candidates still in Senate races nationwide. Individuals can donate up to $2,400 per candidate for the primary and another $2,400 for the general election. The FEC says it often contacts candidates about such problems. Most turn out to be accounting errors; click below for the AP's full report.

Senate candidates flagged for taking too much cash
By TRAVIS REED, Associated Press Writer

MIAMI (AP) — The Federal Election Commission has flagged U.S. Senate candidates 24 times since major fundraising started last year for taking contributions that appear to exceed federal limits, but nearly half of the notices have gone to just three candidates, an Associated Press analysis found.

GOP candidates Marco Rubio of Florida and Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho have received four notices each while Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., got three. Thirteen other candidates have received one notice each. There are 75 candidates still in Senate races nationwide.

Individuals can donate up to $2,400 per candidate for the primary and another $2,400 for the general election.

FEC spokeswoman Judith Ingram said it's not unusual for commission analysts to contact candidates about problems with their federally required filings, which often turn out to be accounting mistakes. The agency has no authority to file criminal charges but has sometimes fined campaigns for repeat infractions of federal law, including contribution limits.

It is against FEC policy to say whether any candidate's campaign is under formal investigation until sanctions are announced. Rubio's and Crapo's campaigns have not been sanctioned, but Rubio has received an FEC notice about possible excessive contributions in all three filing periods between Jan. 1 and Aug. 4, this year, in addition to one in 2009. Crapo received two notices each in 2009 and 2010.

Rubio's Democratic opponent, Kendrick Meek, got one notice and Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running as an independent after bolting the GOP, got none, as did Crapo opponent Tom Sullivan and Gillibrand opponent Joe DioGuardi.

Rubio, the young and charismatic former state House speaker, has become a rising Republican star, and his campaign says that's part of the problem with excessive donations.

Campaign strategist Todd Harris says it's hard to compare Rubio to other candidates because he has so many donors. Nearly 100,000 have opened their checkbooks for Rubio, though only about 20,000 gave $200 or more, an amount comparable to other large campaigns.

"We have a very aggressive and detailed FEC compliance department to make sure that every donation we receive is within the allowable maximum limit," Harris said in a written statement.

Rubio has raised $12.8 million through current FEC filings, though his campaign announced this week he collected $5 million in the third quarter — breaking the Florida record $4.5 million he took in the previous quarter for the most raised in any three-month period of a U.S. Senate race. He has now raised $16 million and has $5.5 million left to spend.

Crapo spokesman Jake Ball says the campaign, which has raised $2.6 million, promptly corrected all overpayments.

"When one of these situations arises and the timing of it straddles a reporting period, the FEC sends a notice," Ball said. "We remedy excessive contributions quickly and completely and we follow the law carefully when this occurs."

So did Glen Caplin, a spokesman for Gillibrand, who has collected $11.3 million.

"These were routine requests for additional information and the campaign immediately fulfilled each to the full satisfaction of the FEC," Caplin said.


Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.



Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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