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DID SENATOR HIDE VENDORS? FAIL TO DISCLOSE LAST-MINUTE CONTRIBUTIONS?

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has asked the campaign of incumbent “Republican” Lindsey Graham to explain multiple reporting problems on its latest campaign finance filing.  Among the problems?  Issues over improper payment for “contract labor” and “general consulting,” unexplained credit card expenses, questionable petty cash disbursements and failure to disclose “last-minute” campaign contributions.

In a letter sent to Graham’s campaign treasurer Thad Westbrook, the FEC says the organization failed to file “one or more 48-hour notices” of last-minute contributions – adding that “failure to file 48-hour notices may result in civil money penalties or legal enforcement action.”

Ruh-roh …

Westbrook, of course, is no stranger to shady dealings.  Nor is Graham.  In 2009, for example, FITS uncovered a not-so-thinly-veiled effort to funnel cash from left-leaning environmentalists into television advertisements supporting the liberal lawmaker – who was the only “Republican” in the entire U.S. Congress to support a cap-and-trade energy tax.

Is Graham once again looking to hide liberal money flowing into his coffers?

This isn’t the first time Team Graham has received such a notice from the FEC.  A warning issued in December 2013 chided Graham’s organization for failing to disclose vendors who were initially paid by campaign staffers.

Reimbursing campaign staffers for payments made to vendors and then “neglecting” to itemize these vendors on disclosure forms is one way campaigns attempt to hide who they do business with.  In fact the FEC is still investigating the 2012 presidential campaign of Newt Gingrich for employing such tactics.

Graham won the “Republican” nomination for a third term in the U.S. Senate back in June with 56 percent of the vote – although the vast majority of the electorate stayed at home.  Also, despite spending $5 million on his primary election – polling shows more South Carolinians disapprove of Graham’s performance than approve of it.

Graham is running against Democrat Brad Hutto, independent conservative Thomas Ravenel and Libertarian Victor Kocher.

FEC LETTER TO LINDSEY GRAHAM CAMPAIGN (.pdf)