Wisconsin Dems Ask for Investigation Into Paul Ryan’s Campaign Finances

ryan campaign finance Wisconsin Dems Ask for Investigation Into Paul Ryans Campaign Finances

Paul Ryan on the campaign trail in Ohio last weekend. (Photo: Getty)

Based on a Politicker investigation, Wisconsin Democratic Party Chairman Mike Tate is asking the Federal Election Commission to open an investigation into Paul Ryan’s congressional campaign committee. Last Thursday, we published a report detailing how Paul Ryan, who is simultaneously running for re-election in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District and on the GOP presidential ticket with Mitt Romney, may have improperly used funds from his congressional campaign for about $60,000 in expenses at the Republican National Convention. Mr. Tate’s letter to the FEC said this story shows Mr. Ryan’s congressional campaign committee “co-mingled expenditures between the Committee and the Romney Committee” in violation of federal regulations. Politicker has obtained a copy of Mr. Tate’s letter, which he is sending this week.

“As disclosed in an article published on October 25, 2012 in Politicker.com, a political website operated by The New York Observer, the Committee reported ‘$59,603.41 that was specifically identified as [Republican National] convention-related expenses between July 26 and October 17.’ A copy of the article is attached to this letter,” Mr. Tate wrote. “A spokesperson for the Committee is quoted as stating that the bulk of such expenses were for the purchase of twenty hotel rooms for use at the Republican National Convention, although the Committee had only five staff members.”

In his letter to the FEC Mr. Tate said the explanation Mr. Ryan’s campaign manager, Kevin Seifert, gave us for the expenses “strains credulity.”

“It strains credulity to believe that the twenty rooms paid for by the Committee at the Republican National Convention were expended solely to promote the re-election of Mr. Ryan to the House of Representatives,” wrote Mr. Tate. “Instead, these were expenses clearly meant to promote Mr. Ryan’s candidacy for Vice President, and which, under federal law, should have been paid for by the Romney Committee.”

Mr. Tate also noted, as we did in our story, that Mr. Seifert’s explanations for the spending “were contradicted” by some of the information in the campaign’s disclosure reports. Specifically, Mr. Seifert claimed some of the more than 20 rooms purchased by Ryan For Congress at the RNC were purchased at a hotel where the Wisconsin delegation was staying, while the address listed with the payment for those rooms in the campaign’s disclosure report was an entirely different hotel.

We reached out to the Romney campaign and Mr. Seifert to see if they had any response to Mr. Tate’s letter. As of this writing, they have yet to respond. We also contacted the campaign of Rob Zerban, Mr. Ryan’s Democratic opponent in his House race. T.J. Helmstetter, a spokesman for Mr. Zerban said they “expect the FEC to look at the case on its merits and act swiftly.”

“I think your story uncovered important information for the voters and, frankly, for the FEC. From what we can see, it appears the Ryan campaign has been playing fast and loose with its campaign funds. Almost as fast and loose as the numbers in the Paul Ryan budget, which doesn’t add up either,” Mr. Helmstetter said. “We expect the FEC to look at the case on its merits and act swiftly. Paul Ryan needs to play by the same rules as every other candidate.”

Mr. Helmstetter added that the campaign’s “shifting answers” posed to the questions we raised about Mr. Ryan’s spending are part of a “disturbing pattern of dishonesty” on the part of the candidate.

“Given his campaign’s shifting answers to the questions posed on this RNC funding, it looks like we’re getting more of this same disturbing pattern of dishonesty that we’ve seen from Ryan throughout the entire campaign,” said Mr. Helmstetter.

Read a copy of Mr. Tate’s letter, which was first reported in the print edition of this morning’s New York Observer, below.

“October 30, 2012
Office of General Counsel
Federal Election Commission
999 E Street, N.W.
Washington, DC  20463
Re:   Complaint against Ryan for Congress,

FEC No. C00330894

TO THE GENERAL COUNSEL:

Pursuant to 2 U.S.C. 437g(a) and 11 C.F.R. 111.4, I am writing to request that the  Federal Election Commission  open a Matter Under Review against Ryan for Congress, FEC No. C00330894, (the “Committee”) the principal campaign committee of Congressman Paul D. Ryan, FEC No.  H8WI01024, and find that the Committee has violated the Federal Election Campaign Act, and its related regulations, for the reasons set forth below.

In addition to being the Republican candidate for election to the U.S. House of Representatives for the 8th Congressional District of Wisconsin, Mr. Ryan is also the Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States FEC No. P80003353, and whose principal campaign committee (along with that of Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney) is Romney for President Inc., FEC No. C00431171 (the “Romney Committee”).

Federal law is clear that  “[i]f an individual is a candidate for more than one Federal office, … he or she must designate separate principal campaign committees and establish completely separate campaign organizations.”  11 C.F.R. 110.8(d)(1).  Furthermore, “[n]o funds, goods, or services, including loans and loan guarantees, may be transferred between or used by the separate campaigns, except as provided in 11 CFR 110.3(c)(5)”. 11 C.F.R. 110.8(d)(2). On information and belief Mr. Ryan has co-mingled expenditures between the Committee and the Romney Committee, in violation of such regulations.

As disclosed in an article published on October 25, 2012 in Politicker.com, a political website operated by The New York Observer, the Committee reported “$59,603.41 that was specifically identified as [Republican National] convention-related expenses between July 26 and October 17”.   A  copy of the article is attached to this letter.   The article may also be found at http://politicker.com/2012/10/paul-ryan-campaign-money/.  A spokesperson for the Committee is quoted as stating that the bulk of such expenses were for the purchase of twenty hotel rooms for use at the Republican National Convention, although the Committee had only five staff members.

As stated in the FEC’s publication “FEC Rules for National Convention Delegates” (“Rules”),  “candidates may also use campaign funds to pay the travel and subsistence expenses of other individuals (e.g., spouse, child, Congressional staff person) in connection with the convention if the individual will be engaging in significant campaign-related or officeholder-related activity on the candidate’s behalf during the convention.  11 C.F.R. 113.1(g); AOs 1996-20, 1996-19 and 1995-47.”  Rules, p. 2.

It strains credulity to believe that the twenty rooms paid for by the Committee at the Republican National Convention were expended solely to promote the re-election of Mr. Ryan to the House of Representatives.  Instead, these were expenses clearly meant to promote Mr. Ryan’s candidacy for Vice President, and which, under federal law, should have been paid for by the Romney Committee.   Further, as shown in the Politicker article, the campaign spokesperson’s further efforts to explain away the expenditures were contradicted by the Committee’s reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Based on my information and belief, the Politicker article, along with the campaign reports cited within it, are sufficient for the Office of General Counsel to establish a Matter Under Review and for the Federal Election Commission to determine that a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act has occurred.
Respectfully Submitted,

Michael Tate, Chairman
The Democratic Party of Wisconsin
110 King Street, Suite 203
Madison, WI  53703″