Republican seeking Michele Bachmann’s seat may have violated campaign finance law

A Republican hoping to replace Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) may have violated campaign finance rules by appearing in a local contractor’s television ad.

Former state Rep. Tom Emmer identified himself in the ad as a congressional candidate and stands in front of his campaign sign, according to the blog Blue Stem Prairie.

The ad appeared on cable channels in the 6th District, the blog says, although Emmer has since asked for the TV spot to be taken down, according to the Minnesota Pioneer Press.

Emmer had touted the services of the general contracting company and told the newspaper he hadn’t intended the spot to advertise for his campaign.

Federal campaign finance laws prohibit candidates from personally advocating for their campaign in advertisements paid for by corporations.

"This may be the strangest ad we've seen and is clearly a violation of campaign finance law," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Sloan said she'd seen the ad, and she highly doubted it would have been very effective for Emmer or the company he was promoting as a candidate for political office.

"It's outrageous, almost unfathomable, that someone would do that," she said.

If a complaint is filed, Emmer’s campaign and the contracting company could each be fined.

But an expert on campaign law said it’s unlikely the Federal Elections Commission will take action because Emmer took immediate measures to take the ad off the air and online.

Bachmann declined to seek re-election after an investigation was opened by the Office of Congressional Ethics into possible violations during her failed attempt to seek the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

[Note: Updated with comments from CREW's executive director after publication.]

[Image via YouTube]