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Kirkpatrick accuses GOP PAC of campaign finance violations

Kirkpatrick accuses GOP PAC of campaign finance violations

Former U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick is accusing a super PAC with ties to House Speaker Paul Ryan of violating federal election rules when it recently opened an office in Tucson.

The three-page letter to the Federal Elections Commission has Kirkpatrick, who is one of several people vying to be the Democratic nominee in Congressional District 2 in next year’s mid-term elections, suggesting the Congressional Leadership Fund violated state campaign-finance laws by failing to file required disclosures.

Specifically, a 48-hour independent expenditure report, required whenever a group spends more than $10,000.

“CLF opened an office, hired staff, produced literature and communicated with voters expressly advocating for a candidate for federal office,” wrote David Chase, campaign manager for Kirkpatrick.

“Voters deserve to know that Washington, D.C., operatives funded by wealthy national Republican donors are engaged in electioneering here in Tucson.”

A spokeswoman for the PAC said the Kirkpatrick campaign is trying to distract would-be voters in CD2.

“They have a clear misunderstanding of the law — there is absolutely no doubt that our field program is permissible by the FEC, and we filed all appropriate paperwork,” she said.

The Congressional Leadership Fund is an independent-expenditure super PAC that operates independently of any federal candidate and works to elect Republicans to the U.S. House of Representatives.

The group stated it spent more than $700,000 in the CD2 race last year, primarily on TV ads, digital advertising, and get-out-the-vote efforts.

The Kirkpatrick campaign included several posts in its complaint showing PAC employees on social media going door-to-door in Tucson talking about incumbent U.S. Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican.

They also were shown handing out political fliers highlighting McSally’s accomplishments.

A decision by the FEC in January states that door-to-door canvassing alone is not considered an independent expenditure.

The CD2 race is expected to attract national attention from both parties, which each see the district as winnable.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson

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Joe has been with the Star for six years. He covers politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona. He graduated from the UA and previously worked for the Arizona Daily Sun.

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