A formal complaint against Florida Congressman Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, has been filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) by his opponent in the 2020 race.
Posey has represented Florida’s 8th Congressional District since 2009. Located in East Central Florida, the district includes Brevard and Indian River counties and a portion of Orange County. The seat is considered the primary representation for Florida’s Space Coast.
Merritt Island resident, Jim Kennedy, an Electrical Engineer at Kennedy Space Center, US Navy veteran, and one of the Democratic challengers for Posey’s seat, said in a statement released on February 18th that his campaign filed the complaint on the advice of the FEC.
According to the copy of the complaint published on Kennedy’s website, Congressman Posey held several large campaign fundraising events at the American Muscle Car Museum, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation without all proper accounting and disclosures.
“Congressman Posey prides himself on claims of accountability, however no one can account for the thousands of dollars that have been raised from these illegal campaign fundraising events,” said Kennedy. “For that reason, and at the advice of the FEC, we have filed a formal complaint… Campaign finance reform will be one of the major issues on the top of my priorities once elected.”
The campaign contends that according to the Congressman himself and photos posted online, the events in question brought in 1,000 attendee donors on September 11, 2018 and September 7, 2019, however only 10 or fewer such donations are reflected in Posey’s campaign finance reports. The statement notes that some funds may be reported in the unitemized category.
In the statement, Kennedy also notes that the standard admission charge to the museum for fundraisers is $100/person and cites as one example Posey’s 2018 event where $100 per person was the minimum admission price but VIP tickets went for $1000.
“Because of the significant admission reduction of $95 per person, this would count as an in-kind donation from the corporation to the campaign for each person admitted at that price,” explained Kennedy. “It would be comparable to having Disney host a fundraiser for you and only charging $5 for admission. Thousands would show up. With just the 800 in attendance, that would be a minimum in-kind contribution of $76,000. That far exceeds the limit of $5,600 from any one entity.”
Corporations are prohibited from donating to federal campaigns as are organizations claiming 501(c)(3) tax exemption status.
“So even if the museum was allowed to give, which it isn’t, it contributed well above the legal limits,” said Kennedy. “It has also put its tax exemption status at risk for participating in political campaigns.”
Campaigns are prohibited from accepting contributions from certain types of organizations and individuals.
Prohibited sources include:Except from https://www.fec.gov/help-candidates-and-committees/candidate-taking-receipts/who-can-and-cant-contribute/
-Corporations, including nonprofit corporations (although funds from a corporate separate segregated fund are permissible)
-Labor organizations (although funds from a separate segregated fund are permissible)
-Federal government contractors
-Contributions in the name of another
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.Excerpt from irs.gov
Posey was first elected in 2008. Kennedy is one of the declared Democratic Party candidates challenging the incumbent as he ends his sixth two-year term in Congress.
Kennedy, an engineer with the space industry giant United Launch Alliance, has noted in previous interviews with local newspaper, Florida Today, that this is his first run for public office.
In the 2018 election, there were 234,548 registered Republicans in District 8, compared with 165,033 registered Democrats, and 147,009 voters with either no party affiliation or who were members of a minor party.
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