BRYAN COUNTY, Ga (WSAV) – A federal ethics complaint charges 1st District Republican Congressman Buddy Carter with campaign contribution violations in his two congressional races.
Most of the complaint deals with what’s called “conduit contributions”; the practice of moving money from a candidate’s old state campaign account into their federal campaign through a third-party. The ethics complaint was filed by Bryan County Democratic Committee chair Lisa Ring.
“We’re talking about years of campaign activity,” says Ring.
Her complaint alleges nine specific examples of illegal campaign activity.
“I am hoping that from this investigation we will see what exactly his activities have been and we’re able to hold him accountable,” Ring says.
One example claims that two months after Carter announced his candidacy for the U.S. Congress, his old state senate campaign contributed a thousand dollars to then-state senator Barry Loudermilk’s campaign.
Four days later, the complaint says Loudermilk contributed a thousand dollars to Carter’s run for Congress. In the FEC filing, Carter’s campaign did note that the contribution “CONTAINS ONLY FEDERAL PERMISSIBLE FUNDS”.
“You don’t have to look any further than just who filed it. This is partisan politics at it’s best,” says Rep. Carter.
Two years later, the complaint notes the Carter state committee gave a thousand dollars to the campaign of Atlanta state senator Fran Miller. Nine days later, a thousand dollars went from the Miller campaign to Carter’s federal committee. That same contribution had the note saying the funds were federally permissible.
The congressman dismisses the complaint as a political stunt by Ring who is testing the waters to run against him in the next election.
“I don’t have any other comment other than just look at the origin of it and look at what it says,” says the congressman.
Ring will tell you, that’s just fine with her.
“That’s why the complaint is being sent to experts to investigate because it is difficult for somebody like me to determine exactly what is appropriate and what is not appropriate.”
You can see the full complaint below. It also includes a charge that Carter’s campaign knowingly took part in a “straw donor” contribution, that is when a donor is named for a contribution they may not have actually made. Ring points to the July 2016 campaign filing from the Friends of Buddy Carter for State Senate committee. In the filing, the committee actually recorded that it sent $1000 to Carter for Congress. That’s a direct violation of federal law barring nonfederal committees from sending funds to a group involved in a federal campaign. The state committee changed the filing a little more than a week later to indicate it came from a Dalton candidate that was already mentioned on the donor list.
Ring is uncertain what the time frame will be for the Federal Election Commission, the Department of Justice or the FBI to respond to her filing.