FACT Calls for FEC Probe into Evan Bayh’s Senate Campaign
Updated: Mar 19, 2019
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a non-partisan ethics watchdog group, directed by former U.S. Attorney Matthew G. Whitaker, has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), requesting an investigation into Indiana U.S. Senate candidate Evan Bayh and his campaign committee, Evan Bayh Committee, for egregious violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act and FEC regulations.
According to the complaint, Bayh’s Senate campaign website includes an inconspicuous page, “Hoosiers Need to Know,” which instructs outside groups on what television ads they want the super PACs to run. They even go so far as to identify the specific media markets for those ads. Once the desired ads are run by outside groups, the information under the “Hoosiers Need to Know” tab is then updated with new instructions. In some instances, the information being communicated is not general candidate or campaign information, but moreover, specific content and direction based on the campaign’s internal information and advertising needs that is targeted to super PACs.
For example, in September 2016, the following was posted on the Bayh website: “Young is even for raising the Social Security retirement age, putting hard-earned benefits further down the road. The sons and daughters of hard working Hoosier seniors respect social security and understand it is a promise from one generation to the next—one their parents earned, rely on and that they will, too. Todd Young has worked to undermine that promise and can’t be trusted. Todd Young: A Washington Politician in it for himself. Not Indiana.”
After this was posted, Senate Majority PAC responded and published an ad stating: “Young said he’s proud to back a plan that would make devastating cuts to Social Security. He’d even raised the retirement age. Congressman Young, a Washington Politician, out for himself. Not us.”
“By instructing super PAC’s to run ads on his behalf, Evan Bayh and his campaign are deliberately trying to undermine our nation’s campaign finance laws,” said Matthew Whitaker, Executive Director of the Foundation for Accountability & Civic Trust (FACT). “Public or not, candidates are clearly prohibited from requesting, either directly or indirectly, a super PAC to run certain ads or republish candidate campaign materials.”
Bayh is not the only high profile U.S. Senate candidate violating the law in this fashion, using obscure webpages, often titled “voters need to know,” with identical language to indicate the ad content. FACT has filed similar complaints recently against Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidate Katie McGinty, Florida U.S. Senate Candidate Patrick Murphy, and Ohio Senate Candidate Ted Strickland.
“If the FEC does not act swiftly and punish such a clear violation, then I fear our nation’s campaign finance laws are without purpose,” Whitaker added.