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FACT Calls for FEC Probe into Catherine Cortez Masto’s Campaign

Updated: Mar 19, 2019


FACT Says NV Senate Candidate Using Website to Illegally Coordinate with Super PACs

The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) requesting an investigation into Nevada U.S. Senate candidate Catherine Cortez Masto and her campaign committee, Catherine Cortez Masto for Senate. The complaint cites Cortez Masto and her campaign for using the campaign website to illegally and stealthily coordinate with super PACs that support her candidacy. This constitutes serious violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act and Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulations.

According to the complaint, Cortez Masto’s Senate campaign website uses a specific “media” page to instruct the Senate Majority PAC, along with other outside organizations, on what television ads to run based on the campaign’s internal polling information and advertising needs.

For example, in September 2016, the following was posted on Cortez Masto’s campaign website:

“Attention! On the issues that matter to Nevada Hispanics, there’s no difference between Joe Heck and Donald Trump. Heck continues to support Trump for President, and he voted 4 TIMES to end DACA and put thousands of DREAMers at risk of deportation. Heck voted to cut Pell Grants, and the two of them—Heck and Trump—would make it harder for Nevada students to pay for college.”

After this was posted, Senate Majority PAC responded and published an ad stating:

NARRATOR: “Is there any difference between Joe Heck and Donald Trump? On immigration, Heck voted four times against DACA and DAPA, putting thousands of DREAMers at risk of being deported.” TRUMP: “We’re going to have a deportation force.” NARRATOR: “Heck says he cares about education, but he voted to cut Pell grants.” TRUMP: “We’re going to cut the Department of Education.” NARRATOR: “On the issues that are most important to us, there is no difference between Joe Heck and Donald Trump.”

Once the Senate Majority PAC published the ad with copied language from Cortez Masto’s web page, the “media” page was updated with content for new ads.

“Catherine Cortez Masto’s actions are not only a blatant attempt to violate the law, but unfortunately a successful one,” said Matthew Whitaker, Executive Director of the FACT. “The number of candidates communicating with the same super PAC indicates a conspiracy to coordinate, which is criminal activity and therefore demands the FEC’s prompt action.”

Cortez Masto is one of the latest number of growing violators. Multiple U.S. Senate candidates have used this identical method, all using specific web pages with similar language such as “voters need to know” or “voters should know” to make requests of super PACs and other outside groups. Additionally, Senate Majority PAC seems to be the one group responding to these requests. The other Senate candidates FACT has asked the FEC to investigate include: Evan Bayh (IN), Ted Strickland (OH), Patrick Murphy (FL) and Katie McGinty (PA).

Read FACT's press release here.

Read FACT's complaint in full here.


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The Foundation for Accountability & Civic Trust

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The Foundation for Accountability & Civic Trust (FACT) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas by hanging a lantern over public officials who put their own interests over the interests of the public good. 

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