U.S. Senate candidate Manny Sethi on Wednesday accused opponent Bill Hagerty of accepting a donation from U.S. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) and then discretely returning it.
This, according to a press release that the Sethi campaign emailed this week.
“This is so swampy: Bill Hagerty accepted the maximum donation from Mitt Romney and was so desperate to hide it that he never reported Romney’s donation on his campaign finance report,” Sethi said in the press release.
“Hiding campaign donations is 100 percent illegal and Hagerty, along with his entire campaign team, should be investigated.”
The Tennessee Star on Wednesday asked the Hagerty campaign to respond.
“This is the kind of deceitful campaigning Tennesseans have come to expect from the Sethi campaign,” said campaign spokesman Michael Byerly in an email.
“The only person trying to hide a donation is Manny Sethi and his ActBlue donation to his close friend Tom Perriello who supported Obamacare and called the NRA a ‘nut-job extremist organization.’”
The Federal Election Commission addresses the matter on its website.
“A refund occurs when a committee has actually deposited a contribution in its bank depository and then pays it back to the contributor by issuing a check, or when a committee charges back a contribution electronically credited to the committee’s account. The refund will be disclosed on the committee’s reports,” the FEC said.
“Alternatively, a committee may return a contribution to a donor without depositing it. The return must be made within 10 days of the treasurer’s receipt of the contribution. In this case, the committee does not have to report either the receipt or the return of the contribution.”
Wednesday’s New York Times reported that Romney’s Believe in America PAC contributed $5,600, the maximum amount allowed per law, to Hagerty’s campaign. Romney reportedly did this one day after Hagerty announced his candidacy last September.
“Bank records indicate that Mr. Hagerty’s campaign deposited the check,” The New York Times said.
“But in October, Mr. Hagerty surprised Mr. Romney by quietly returning the donation in full.”
The New York Times went on to say that neither the PAC’s contribution nor Hagerty’s disbursement of the refund appears in his campaign filings. The paper called that “a potential violation of campaign finance law.”
An unidentified spokesman for the Hagerty campaign told The New York Times the following:
“Once we realized it was deposited, we alerted the bank and we reversed the transaction, because we do not share Senator Romney’s liberal, anti-Trump political positions.”
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