By: Mark Archuleta
In a March 15, 2012 letter addressed to “Ms. McKeon” the Federal Election Commission (FEC) notified her that she was in violation of reporting rules and would suffer civil fines:
“On March 13, 2012, the FEC found that there is reason to believe (“RTB”) that Buck McKeon for Congress and you, in your official capacity as treasurer, violated 2 U.S.C. § 434(a) by failing to file timely this report on or before January 31, 2012. Based on the FEC’s schedules of civil money penalties at 11 CFR § 111.43, the amount of your civil money penalty calculated at the RTB stage is $4,600.”
Alissa McCurley, spokesperson for 25th District Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon issued a statement to the Associated Press regarding the violation of filing 13 days late.
“Congressman McKeon’s 2011 Year-End report was electronically filed on-time–a day early in fact. Unfortunately, there was an error in the electronic transmission of the file, and the report was not received by the FEC. When the error was discovered, the report was immediately re-filed and the appropriate fine was paid by the Congressman’s campaign according to FEC rules and regulations,” said McCurley.
The FEC allows treasurers, such as Patricia McKeon to challenge reporting violations under situations stated by McCurley:
“Examples of circumstances that will be considered reasonably unforeseen and beyond your control include, but are not limited to, (1) a failure of Commission computers or Commission-provided software despite your seeking technical assistance from Commission personnel and resources; (2) a widespread disruption of information transmissions over the Intemet that is not caused by a failure of the Commission’s or your computer systems or Internet service provider…”
McCurley declined to answer why Patricia did not challenge the ruling or whether or not their office would be expected to receive a receipt to indicate a report had been successfully filed. McKeon’s office also refused to be forthright in stating Patricia McKeon’s salary working for her husband’s campaign by merely stating:
“Patricia’s salary as campaign treasurer is public information.”
FEC.gov shows Patricia McKeon’s salary at $5,331 per month, a raise from the $5,081 per month she made last year.
The non-profit, non-partisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) which names the most corrupt politicians in Washington studied the 2008 and 2010 election cycles and found that “82 members (40 Democrats and 42 Republicans) paid family members through their congressional offices, campaign committees and political action committees (PACs).”
That report included McKeon who reportedly paid his wife $238,438 over the 2008 and 2010 campaign cycles.
Buck McKeon defended his hiring of his wife in a March 23, Ventura County Star article: http://www.vcstar.com/news/2012/mar/23/mckeon-and-gallegly-defend-decision-to-hire-for/
Buck McKeon’s challenger for the 25th Congressional District, Democrat Dr. Lee Rogers (whose discovery and exposure of the gaffe clearly benefits his campaign) takes issue with McKeon being able to hire his wife as his treasurer so their family can personally pocket campaign donations.
“Patricia McKeon is the official treasurer for Buck McKeon for Congress and is paid for her services. Campaigns are not subject to the same nepotism laws that prevent payments to family members as congressional employees. For this congressional session, from January 2011 to June of 2012, Patricia McKeon has been paid $95,479 for her duties as Treasurer. One of the most important duties of a treasurer is to file timely FEC reports,” said Rogers.
Rogers has vowed to introduce anti-nepotism laws within his first 100 days in office.
The check which was used to pay for the violations was paid for from the “Buck” McKeon for Congress bank account. Another issue Rogers finds troubling:
“Donors give money to candidates expecting that they’ll use it for campaigning. They don’t expect it to be used on fines for violating the law,” said Rogers.
Still McCurley wants to assure constituents Patricia McKeon’s mistake is an anomaly.
“In the 20 years that the Congressman has filed financial reports, this is they only time that an error like this occurred and the Congressman’s campaign rectified the error immediately,” said McCurley.
The closed FEC case including supporting documents can be found by clicking here. http://eqs.nictusa.com/eqs/searcheqs;jsessionid=A5DB924C91C826CD814986252FA6CC26?SUBMIT=continue