The House Ethics Committee on Monday announced it’s extending an inquiry into Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., following allegations the freshman Democratic failed to properly disclose the source of more than $300,000 in personal funds she loaned to her campaign before the 2018 midterm elections.
The Office of Congressional Ethics, which is an independent ethics watchdog, first referred Trahan’s case to the Democrat-led House Ethics Committee on Sept. 18 after receiving complaints from conservative groups who alleged the Massachusetts Democrat lacked transparency by waiting to fully disclose her finance records until after the November election, Politico reported.
“This review involves the same issues raised by a right-wing group formerly headed by Donald Trump’s Acting Attorney General with a long history of attacking Democrats,” Trahan’s spokesman Mark McDevitt said in a statement Monday. “A candidate may make unlimited contributions to her campaign from her ‘personal funds.’ In cases involving Jane Fonda and Bob Dole, the FEC has treated spouses’ funds as the candidates’ ‘personal funds,’ when the candidates had the right to manage and dispose of those same funds under state law.”
Her office did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News.
Trahan, a 46-year-old businesswoman, donated $300,000 to her own campaign during the final two weeks of a 10-candidate Democratic primary, the report said. Her husband initially moved $300,000 of his own income into the joint account between them. She then went on to secure her party’s nomination by a narrow 145-vote margin before winning the seat.
Trahan has repeatedly denied that what she did violated federal campaign finance law. In a detailed story published on Medium last month, she defended her campaign finance spending but admitted that she made several errors in the paperwork. She wrote that she hired a firm after the election to make the proper corrections in her Federal Election Commission filings and House Financial Disclosure reports. Her initial filings did not list the joint account as a source of campaign funding.
“I now know that the way I contributed those funds constitute a gray area in campaign finance law. I also know that the Federal Election Commission’s past rulings suggest what I did was not a violation…” Trahan wrote. “Last year, I discovered that my campaign made several errors in our personal financial disclosure statements and federal election reports. For many first time candidates like myself, this is common. I regret that there were inadvertent omissions and errors in my initial filings.”
Trahan argued, citing precedent established by the Federal Election Commission, that because she and her husband shared finances equally, she did not violate federal campaign finance laws which allow for candidates to make personal donations to their own campaigns.
The House Ethics Committee must decide whether it will dismiss Trahan’s case or extend to inquiry further before Dec. 17, Roll Call reported.