NOTE: This item's also posted for discussion on page 10 of this ongoing thread here:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Lance Dutson,
Maine Republican Victory Campaign
October 1, 2010
MAINE GOP TO FILE FEC COMPLAINT AGAINST CHELLIE PINGREE
Maine Congresswoman broke Federal Election law when she flew in private jet to fundraiser
AUGUSTA - The Maine Republican Party today announced it will file a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Congresswoman Chellie Pingree.
"[The Maine GOP] assert[s] that in the course of her campaign for reelection, she has violated the Federal Election Campaign Finance Act of 1971, as amended by the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, primarily through impermissible air travel to campaign activities aboard non-commercial private aircraft. "
Evidence indicates that Pingree flew to a New York City fundraiser on the $25 million private jet owned by a corporation controlled by her fiancé, billionaire hedge fund manager Donald Sussman. Jet travel to campaign events is explicitly forbidden under Federal Election law.
"[A] campaign traveler who is a candidate for election for the office of Representative in, or Delegate or Resident Commissioner to, the Congress, or a person traveling on behalf of any such candidate or any authorized committee or leadership PAC of such candidate, is prohibited from non-commercial travel on behalf of any such candidate or any authorized committee or leadership PAC of such candidate."
Federal Election law makes exception for aircraft owned by immediate family members, but defines 'immediate family' as "father, mother, son, daughter, brother, sister, husband, wife, father-in-law, or mother-in-law of the candidate". Last week, Pingree attempted to avoid House Ethics Rule violations for her use of the plane based on the surprise announcement of her engagement to Sussman.
Pingree has been previously cited by the FEC for her efforts to raise illegal 'soft money' from donors during her unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate in 2002.
"Lawbreaking by our elected officials is not something we're accustomed to in Maine," said Charlie Webster, Maine Republican Party Chair. "Congresswoman Pingree has repeatedly shown disregard for election law, and needs to be held accountable."
The complaint filed by the Maine GOP asks that the FEC levy a fine against Pingree equal to the standard charter rate of the luxury jet, as well as a punitive fine. Charter rates for similar aircraft have been estimated at nearly $5,000 per hour.
Webster also issued a letter to Bob Edgar, the CEO of Common Cause, asking the group to join the complaint. Pingree was president of Common Cause prior to her election to Congress.
"Through her actions as a candidate and House member, Congresswoman Pingree has turned her back on the principles of your organization. Her hypocrisy casts a shadow on the sincerity of the work Common Cause has done, and will no doubt give comfort to those who seek to stifle your future efforts.
I ask you to join us in our complaint, and make it clear to the American public that Common Cause will not waiver on the principles of government accountability and rule of law."
Cato.org - 'Common Cause Hires Alleged Lawbreaker'
Code of Federal Regulations, Sec. 100.93 Travel by aircraft or other means of transportation