On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that Burgess Owens, a former football player and Fox News commentator running for Congress in Utah, accepted at least $135,000 in illegal campaign contributions.
“Mr. Owens … reported bringing in a staggering $2.5 million during the third quarter fund-raising period, one of the biggest hauls for a Republican congressional candidate. But a review of his campaign’s financial disclosures showed that at least $135,500 — about 40 percent of the cash his campaign currently has on hand in the final stretch — was ineligible because the donors had contributed more than the legal limit,” reported Catie Edmondson. “Individuals may donate up to $2,800 to a federal candidate per election, according to limits published by the Federal Election Commission.”
Owens is running against Rep. Ben McAdams (D-UT), a freshman lawmaker elected during the 2018 Democratic House wave.
“When campaigns receive donations from individuals that exceed those caps, officials must either refund the illegal contributions or reattribute them,” said the report. “The F.E.C. reached out to the campaign in August identifying one such excessive contribution, which the campaign refunded. But the campaign declined to say whether it had addressed the rest of the donations, or planned to.”
Campaign spokesman Jesse Ranney downplayed the finding. “With over 50,000 donors and with many campaign donations made electronically, excess contributions can occur without the campaign’s knowledge. That is why the F.E.C. has processes in place to handle this situation.”
“Such violations can come with fines in the tens of thousands of dollars, and can cast a cloud over campaigns,” said the report. “Representative Mia Love, the Republican who held the Utah district before Mr. McAdams, came under fire for accepting excessive contributions, as did Senator Joni Ernst, Republican of Iowa, in her 2014 campaign.”