Rep.-elect Ross Spano (R-FL) admitted Friday that loans he made to his campaign committee “may have been in violation of the Federal Campaign Finance Act.”
In a letter dated Friday to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), a lawyer for Spano listed $180,000 in personal loans Spano took out during his congressional campaign from two people, who Spano claims are longtime friends, between June and October.
Around the same, Spano personally lent his campaign nearly the same amount from “personal funds.”
While candidates for federal office may donate or loan an unlimited amount of their own personal wealth to their campaigns, according to federal election law: “If any person, including a relative or friend of the candidate, gives or loans the candidate money ‘for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office,’ the funds are not considered personal funds of the candidate even if they are given to the candidate directly.”
Loans given for the purpose of influencing a federal election, according to the law, are subject to standard $2,700-per-election limits.
Spano and his lawyer have painted the episode as one big oversight.
“When Representative-Elect Spano took out the personal four loans and when Representative-Elect Spano made the four loans to the Committee, he believed he was acting in full compliance with the law – as did Mr. Carreno and Ms. Hunt when they entered the promissory notes with him – based on the consultations they had at the time,” his lawyer wrote to the FEC. (Read the full letter below.)
But Spano’s defeated Democratic opponent, Kristen Carlson, has referred the matter to the FBI for investigation, and according to the Tampa Bay Times, Spano’s Republican primary opponent, a former state representative, “has also accused him of breaking the law.”
“I don’t know if that amount of money would have affected the outcome of my race,” Carlson told the Times, “but I really do believe it affected the primary race.”
And the Tampa Bay Times reported during the campaign itself that Spano was months overdue in filing a personal financial disclosure form that ultimately revealed the personal loans he took from the two friends.
Spano also initially lowballed the amount of one loan. A footnote in his letter to the FEC blames the mistake — which listed a loan of $75,000 erroneously as $35,000 — on a “draftsman’s error.” A Spano spokesperson told the Times Saturday that he had not yet received “any letter of inquiry” from the FEC, the paper reported.
Read the letter, via FloridaPolitics.com, below: