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On November 7, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida issued a Consent Judgment in FEC v. Lynch. The judgment found a violation of the personal use prohibition at 52 U.S.C. § 30114(b) and ordered a disgorgement of the converted funds and civil penalty of $10,000.
Lynch for Congress was the principal campaign committee for Edward J. Lynch, Sr. for his 2008 and 2010 campaigns for U.S. Congress. Evidence was uncovered that between 2008 and 2010, the defendants may have converted as much as $53,500 of campaign contributions for Mr. Lynch’s personal use; however, the complaint focused on specific expenditures made on or after August 20, 2010. The FEC alleged that Mr. Lynch used campaign funds to pay for various personal expenses during that time period, including gym membership dues, personal loan payments, automobile expenses and retail purchases.
The Federal Election Campaign Act (the Act) defines "personal use" as the use of campaign funds "to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign or individual’s duties as a holder of Federal office." 52 U.S.C. § 30114(b)(2). Personal use includes, among other things, payments of home mortgages, rent, or utilities; clothing purchases; non-campaign related automobile expenses; and health club dues, among other payments. 52 U.S.C. § 30114(b)(2); 11 CFR 113.1(g).
The Commission initiated enforcement proceedings against the defendants after reviewing information in the normal course of carrying out its supervisory responsibilities. Unable to secure acceptable conciliation agreements with the defendants, the Commission filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida against Edward Lynch, Sr., Lynch for Congress and Edward Lynch, Sr. in his official capacity as treasurer (defendants).
The FEC sought a declaration that defendants’ conversion of $1,374 of campaign funds for Mr. Lynch’s personal use on or after August 20, 2010 violated the Act, the assessment of a $7,500 civil penalty against Mr. Lynch in his personal capacity, and the assessment of a $7,500 civil penalty against Lynch for Congress and Mr. Lynch in his official capacity as treasurer of that committee. The FEC also sought an order requiring Mr. Lynch to disgorge the $1,374 of campaign funds converted to personal use on or after August 20, 2010, and a permanent injunction against future similar violations by defendants.
On November 7, 2016, the court entered a Consent Judgment that Mr. Lynch converted $1,374 of Lynch for Congress' campaign funds to personal use. The judgment ordered that Mr. Lynch disgorge the converted funds back to Lynch for Congress and assessed a $10,000 civil penalty against the defendants. The judgment also ordered Mr. Lynch never again to serve as treasurer for any federal authorized committee for which he is the candidate.
Source: FEC Record--December 2016