Mayor Bill de Blasio’s presidential campaign and his political action committee are doubling down over a $123,000 payment the Federal Election Commission flagged for potentially running afoul of contribution limits.
The mayor used his federal Fairness political action committee to pay for presidential polling ahead of his short-lived White House run — but his de Blasio 2020 campaign blew a 30-day deadline for reimbursing the PAC.
In a letter sent to federal officials late Monday afternoon as the holidays approached, Fairness PAC treasurer Richard Buery told the FEC that the PAC and the campaign erred with the late payment, but didn’t violate any laws.
“Absent reimbursement, Fairness PAC could be construed as having made an excessive contribution to De Blasio 2020, which neither committee intended,” Buery said in the letter. “Accepting the reimbursement, even if untimely, was a compliant action, and the committee completely and correctly disclosed this receipt to the Commission.”
Last month, federal officials sent a letter to the mayor’s Fairness PAC over the $123,000 contribution from de Blasio 2020, which far exceeded the $5,000 annual contribution limit.
The FEC gave the PAC — launched last year to help progressive Democrats running around the nation — until Dec. 23 to explain the payment in an amended report, otherwise it would have to refund the “excessive amount” back to the campaign.
The letter by the feds warned of possible “further legal action regarding the acceptance of an excessive contribution” by the PAC.
Other FEC Questions
Buery’s letter also sought guidance from the FEC on ways to remedy the situation to avoid any penalties.
“As the letter says, we believe accepting the reimbursement was a compliant action,” Jon Paul Lupo, the former de Blasio 2020 campaign treasurer who runs the Fairness PAC, told THE CITY.
The back-and-forth between de Blasio’s PAC and the feds follows a July story from THE CITY that noted the unusual $123,000 transaction. It also isn’t the FEC and de Blasio camp’s only ongoing point of contention.
In September, the FEC inquired about the mayor’s unorthodox fundraising tactics, which used separate state and federal political action committees to help fuel his presidential ambitions. The tangled web of money and donors shielded some spending and donations amid strict federal rules.
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