Ethics Watchdog Calls for Probe of Senator Gary Peters & Michigan 501(c)(4)
Updated: Dec 17, 2019
FACT Says Democratic Congressman
Coordinated Illegal Ads with Outside Organizations
Washington, D.C.—December 6, 2019— The non-partisan ethics watchdog, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), this week, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against VoteVets.Org Action Fund (a 501 (c)(4) political action committee), Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), and his re-election campaign committee, Peters for Michigan, for violating the Federal Election Campaign Act.
The complaint maintains that Peters has been using his campaign website to illegally coordinate with outside organizations that support his candidacy. On a designated and unusual subpage of his website, Peters posted detailed content for ads, including messaging, photos, and b-roll videos, along with instructions for the markets in which to run the ads. The information was conveyed in a format designed to directly coordinate with outside organizations with which he is not permitted to coordinate.
For one ad, Peters shared information focused on the military, with six specific messages highlighted in a research document, along with photos and b-roll footage, referencing his own time in the military and commitment to veterans. Peters also emphasizes the target media market for the information, stating this is information “Michiganders from all parts of the state need to know.”
Just days after Peters posted these campaign materials, one outside organization, VoteVets.Org Action Fund, republished Peters’ campaign materials in the form of television ads. The ads used each type of material provided: the ads’ narration was nearly identical to the six specific messages highlighted and was read over photos and b-roll video from the Peters’ webpage.
To date, VoteVets.Org Action Fund has spent at least $1,450,000 to run these ads for Peters. According to FACT’s complaint, by republishing campaign materials, VoteVets.Org Action Fund made an illegal contribution to Peters for Michigan in violation of federal law.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time a United States Senate candidate has apparently utilized their campaign website to coordinate with and provide campaign materials to an outside organization,” stated Kendra Arnold, Executive Director of FACT. “The actions of Senator Peters, his campaign for re-election, and VoteVets.Org Action Fund are a classic example of this and should be investigated thoroughly in order to uphold the integrity of campaign contribution limits and contribution source prohibitions,” added Arnold.
A full copy of the complaint can be found here.
FACT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: www.factdc.org