Image Credit: Beth Harwell / Facebook
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
While former Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell claims that her actions were legal when money was transferred from her state PAC to a super PAC, a federal watchdog group says she was “outside the law.”
According to Campaign Legal Center, based in Washington, D.C., it is against the law for state election funds in excess of $5,000 to be used for federal campaigns.
“In the case of Harwell, I think we would be looking at a violation, but not a tremendously huge violation because we’re talking about $35,000,” said Saurav Ghosh, Campaign Legal Center’s director of federal campaign finance reform.
Ghosh said the law was put into place to keep millions of dollars worth of state campaign funding from being moved into federal campaigns, but he also noted that the group would be considering whether or not to file a complaint against Harwell with the Federal Election Commission.
Harwell maintains that her actions were in line with the law and that the transfer of the funds was vetted by lawyers on her campaign.
“I don’t know the ins and outs. I was busy being the candidate,” Harwell told the Tennessee Lookout. “But I had a legal staff and an accountant working on everything, so we did everything above board. We did not violate any rules. That I can assure you.”
Government of the People, a super PAC that supported Harwell in her campaign against former Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles, raised $123,250 total. $35,000 of that was transferred from the Beth Harwell Committee.
It has not been verified whether that committee is designated as state or federal, but Campaign Legal Center says it is probable that it is Harwell’s state election committee. Harwell’s federal committee is called Harwell for Congress.
The super PAC also received $10,000 from Harwell’s husband Samuel Harwell.
“What it looks like here with Harwell giving a super PAC $35,000 from her state campaign and another $12,000 from her state PAC, that to me looks like a pretty clear violation of federal campaign finance law,” stated Ghosh.
He said that his organization would be discussing whether they felt the Federal Election Commission would actually enforce the law and then make a determination about filing a complaint. Ghosh stated that the FEC is not known for pushing to enforce campaign finance laws quickly.
Harwell reiterated her innocence in the matter, saying, “I personally didn’t make those decisions. Albeit unsuccessful, I was busying being a candidate. I have full faith in that we did everything correctly.”
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com