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Ethics group files complaint against pro-Rick Scott PAC

A Washington-based ethics group says there’s something rotten with a political committee supporting Gov. Rick Scott’s bid for U.S. Senate.

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, or FACT, said a “scam PAC” known as Keeping America in Republican Control has touted raising more than $1.5 million to influence elections but it hasn’t filed the legally required paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission to operate as a political committee.

It was a fundraising email in support of Scott that tipped FACT off to KAIRC’s questionable nature.

The email, sent July 10, boasts that KAIRC has “helped over 85 candidates, scheduled multiple fundraisers to help candidates in 2018, raised over $1.5 million as of June 30, 2018 and launched 9 support ads to help our candidates.”

Additionally, a cached version 1 website which has been taken offline in the past 48 hours shows the committee pitched itself as a fundraising vehicle to “help keep, support, and re-elect Republicans in control both in the state and federal government.” A donation page for the committee is still online.

For an organization to collect contributions and influence elections, it would need to be registered as a political committee. FACT cited the relevant section of election regulations in a complaint filed with the FEC:

“(It) plainly requires political committees to file a Statement of Organization (Form 1) within 10 days of becoming a political committee. According to the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, ‘any committee, club, association, or other group of persons which receives contributions aggregating in excess of $1,000 or which makes expenditures aggregating in excess of $1,000 during a calendar year is a political committee.’”

A search of the FEC database, which houses campaign finance information on federal candidates and committees, backs up FACT’s allegations — there are no records of a committee by the name of Keeping America in Republican Control or KAIRC PAC.

A search of KAIRC director Russell Taub, however, shows the Rhode Islander gave more than $500,000 in contributions to Republican candidates and committees this cycle to date — a steep climb from the less than $10,000 he gave during the 2016 election cycle.

“There is no doubt KAIRC PAC and Russell Taub are engaged in nefarious and potentially criminal behavior,” FACT director Kendra Arnold said in a statement.

“How an organization can claim to raise over $1.5 million and spend it with no public accounting or paper trail of any kind leads to just two conclusions. Either KAIRC PAC didn’t actually raise the money it claims it raised, or it is being spent on non-political activities. Either way, an investigation is needed immediately.”

In the complaint, FACT calls on the FEC to open an investigation into the PAC and Taub “for failing to comply with the basic filing and reporting requirements of federal campaign finance law.”

FACT, it should be noted, is not a left-leaning group seeking to persecute a Republican-leaning organization.

The watchdog group, while non-partisan, is bent conservative and has gone after U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, worked against the confirmation of one-time Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, and filed an FEC complaint against Democratic voter data firm Catalist.

Written By

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.

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