April 12, 2016

FEC Complaint Signals PA-08 Primary Battle Is Heating Up

Pennsylvania Democrat Shaughnessy Naughton, who is running for U.S. Congress in the state’s 8th district, is facing allegations she violated FEC rules. This past weekend, 314 PAC, a group Naughton formed in 2014, sent out a mailer criticizing the legislative record of her primary opponent, State Representative Steve Santarsiero. The mailer prompted a Santarsiero supporter to file an FEC complaint against Naughton, claiming her campaign committee illegally coordinated with the PAC.

“The basis for Ansinn’s complaint rests with one of the campaign’s top advisers, Josh Morrow, Naughton’s fiance and manager of her 2014 congressional campaign. According to FEC records, Morrow received $20,000 from the 314 PAC in 2015 for strategy and management consulting, with the last payment on Dec. 22. Between July and December, however, Morrow also earned $14,500 for consultation services from the Committee to Elect Shaughnessy Naughton, records show.

The complaint points specifically to the timing between Morrow’s last payment from 314 PAC and the release of the mailer over the weekend, saying the timing is in violation of the 120-day cooling off period required by the FEC when an employee jumps between political action committee and a political campaign.”

Naughton’s campaign has dismissed the complaint as having “no legal merit,” calling it a “press stunt.” That said, voters in the 8th district would be justified in their skepticism that no coordination has taken place.