Arizona Senator Martha McSally may have “built the best compliance team in the country”, but that team continues to struggle properly dealing with the volume of contributions that she received during (and after) her unsuccessful campaign to defeat Kyrsten Sinema for the retired Senator Jeff Flake’s seat.
The day that FEC employees got back from the lengthy government shutdown, they sent out two notices (“RFAIs”) to the campaign. One suggested that the committee was still having problems getting the required occupation and employer information from contributors. Arizona’s Politics reported on that issue in October. The other, more eye-popping notice detailed more than $270,000 in contributions that exceeded the limits that individuals are permitted to donate.
Last week – before the notices were sent out – the McSally committee had filed an amended report correcting – re-attributing, re-designating or refunding – some of the monies. The Year-End report filed last night includes more corrections.
However, that still leaves LOTS of contributions to clear up. Fortunately, she has more than $900,000 in the bank to pay her compliance people to clear up the problem.
One of the problems that will need to be corrected is that the more than $100,000 (approximately 850 donations) received after the November 6 election date was designated for a potential recount. According to her most recent reports, none of the post-election expenses were spent preparing for a recount (that did not happen). Those monies may* have to be either refunded to contributors, or the campaign will have to ask the individuals if the campaign can spend it in next year’s primary. (McSally already filed her candidacy to retain the seat formerly held by the late John McCain.)
By contrast, Sinema’s campaign handled post-election contributions differently. They were designated as contributions to Sinema’s re-election campaign…in 2024. (The Sinema campaign also received a surprisingly high number of contributions on November 6, which were designated as intended for the 2018 campaign.)
In addition to the excessive contributions and the occupation/employer info, the McSally campaign’s filings reflect that it continued to pay campaign staff as independent contractors rather than as employees. Arizona’s Politics reported on this issue before the election. In so doing, the campaign did not have to either withhold taxes or pay benefits to the workers. The McSally campaign was the only one of the nation’s most competitive (read: expensive) campaigns to not have any “employees”.
Arizona’s Politics has reached out for a response from the McSally team, and will update this article as warranted.
*Candidates are allowed to collect monies for a recount, and those monies do NOT count against a contributor’s limits for the primary and general elections. However, since a recount did not happen in this case, it is not clear how the campaign must treat those monies. FEC Press Officer Judith Ingram tells Arizona’s Politics that the FEC analysts will be evaluating yesterday’s year-end filing and may further advise.
Phoenix election law attorney Paul Weich – also an Arizona’s Politics’ co-founder – contributed this article. It was originally published at Arizona’s Politics.