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NY Dem Accused Of Committing Campaign Finance Violations Prior To Special Election

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  • An official complaint has been filed with the Federal Election Commission against New York Democratic Ulster County Executive and congressional candidate Pat Ryan after speculation about campaign finance violations.
  • Ryan is running in three races simultaneously, running in a special election, a primary and the November general election causing some to question his financial practices. 
  • “If he is accepting contributions for an election he hasn’t registered in, that is a black and white campaign finance violation,” election law attorney John Ciampoli told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

New York Democratic Ulster County Executive and congressional candidate Pat Ryan’s campaign finance practices have led to an official complaint being filed with the Federal Election Commision, according to documents obtained exclusively by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

A complaint filed by Duchess County Republican legislator and member of New York’s 19th Congressional District Will Truitt alleged that Ryan was using a congressional campaign account in one district to fund his race in a special election in a different district, a letter obtained by the DCNF stated. The FEC responded to the letter acknowledging the acceptance of the complaint.

All congressional candidates who receive or spend more than $5,000 must register and file with the FEC, according to their official guidance. The FEC guidance states that a candidate must file separately for each race they partake in, it also states that “a primary, general, runoff and special election are each considered a separate election.”

“This is a fairly clear cut answer, as the FEC gives guidance on this matter and requires candidates to file two separate forms,” Marc Ellinger, a lawyer specializing in election law, told the DCNF. “He [Pat Ryan] is required to file with the FEC for both the special and general elections.”

Ryan is only registered to run in the primary and general election in the newly drawn 18th congressional district, according to the FEC.

Ryan is currently running in a special election to fill a vacant seat left by New York Democratic lieutenant governor Antonio Delgado in New York’s 19th Congressional District, the Daily Caller reported. However, redistricting caused Ryan to run in the newly drawn 18th congressional district in the November general election.

“While Mr. Ryan is formally a candidate for both offices, his only current federal campaign committee is organized for New York’s 18th Congressional District,” the letter to the FEC read. “As demonstrated by his official filings with the New York State Board of Elections and his public representations, however, he is actively pursuing and raising campaign funds for both offices through one single federal campaign account.”

“This creates some difficulty because the special election, primary, and general elections all have spending limits,” John Ciampoli, an election law attorney told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “If you reach the limits before November and continue to raise money, the candidate would be in violation of campaign finance laws.”

“Pat Ryan is flagrantly breaking federal campaign finance law in order to improperly move money between the two districts,” said Taylor Weyeneth, the campaign manager for Ryan’s opponent, Colin Schmitt, told the DCNF. “This is exactly the type of conduct that voters have come to expect from politicians like Pat Ryan and it is why we will win in November.”

The National Republican Congressional Committee echoed Weyeneth’s arguments emphasizing that Ryan cared more about “his political ambitions” than “being honest with his own donors about where he’s spending their money.”

“If he [Pat Ryan] is accepting contributions for an election he hasn’t registered in, that is a black and white campaign finance violation,” Ciampoli told the DCNF. “The way to prevent it would be to have separate campaign accounts or not accept donations for the general election prior to the special and primary.”

The Ryan campaign did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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