Nov. 26, 2012 — Legally, Georgians can’t spend campaign money raised for one political office to run for a different one. There’s a wide-open loophole, though, and veteran legislator Bill Hembree of Douglas County is only the latest to use it.
When Hembree left the Georgia House recently, he refunded $60,400 from his House campaign account to donors. Within a week, those same supporters gave all but $1,000 of the money back to Hembree to run for a just-opened Senate seat. Here’s the clever part: Rather than simply returning the most recent contributions, Hembree reached back as far as 11 years to choose the donors who got refunds.
The Federal Election Commission has issued a “no reason to believe” decision in a complaint against U.S. Rep. David Scott, political blogger Andre Walker and Scott’s campaign treasurer, Hammerin’ Hank Aaron. The complaint, filed in March, charges Walker blogged favorably about Scott’s re-election campaign without disclosing $2,950 in payments from the campaign. The FEC’s general counsel accepted Scott’s explanation that the money was for maintaining the campaign Web site and no other purpose.