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U.S. Sen. Jim Risch campaign fined for violating finance law, FEC settlement shows


U.S. Sen. Jim Risch campaign fined for violating finance law, FEC settlement shows

Aug 28, 2023 | 6:10 am ET
By Mia Maldonado
U.S. Sen. Jim Risch campaign fined for violating finance law, FEC settlement shows
U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, looks on during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on the Fiscal Year 2023 Budget at the U.S. Capitol on April 26, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Bonnie Cash/Getty Images)

The Jim Risch for U.S. Senate Committee is facing a civil penalty after failing to return excessive contributions on time during his 2020 campaign, according to a negotiated settlement between the campaign and the Federal Election Commission. 

According to the settlement, Risch’s committee campaign received $58,000 in excessive contributions from individuals during the 2020 election. 

Under the negotiated settlement with the FEC, the campaign must pay $4,325 in fines after failing to resolve the excessive contributions on time. 

According to the election commission FEC, when a committee receives an excessive contribution, the committee must resolve the violation within 60 days by: 

  • Refunding the excessive amount to the individual
  • Seeking a redesignation, or redesignating the excessive portion to the general election or when the donor instructs the committee to use the excessive portion of a contribution for an election other than the one for which the funds were originally given 
  • By seeking reattribution, or attributing a portion of money to another individual whose name is not listed in the original contribution

What is an excessive contribution? 

Jason Risch, spokesperson for Risch’s campaign, said in an email that it has reviewed its procedures and has put policies in place to improve timeliness, which were presented to the FEC and were accepted as appropriate corrective actions.

The majority of the contributions at issue came from individual donors who are allowed to contribute a certain amount per election,” he told the Idaho Capital Sun.

During the 2020 election, any authorized committee could not receive more than a total of $2,800 per election, per candidate. For 2023 to 2024, that limit has increased to $3,300 per election, per candidate, Risch noted, according to the FEC website

“This means that the donor can contribute $3,300 toward the primary election held in May and another $3,300 toward the general election held in November,” he said. “However, when the donor makes both contributions with one $6,600 check, the campaign has a technical requirement to mail the donor a follow up letter.”

Even when a $6,600 donation is intended for two separate election donations, the campaign still must mail the donor a letter notifying them that the campaign is considering the donation as two separate donations, Risch said. 

Risch’s campaign did not mail donors letters by the 60-day deadline, resulting in the civil penalty. Until the campaign notifies the donors by writing, the election committee considers the donations excessive.

Risch said the settlement is not a result of intentional or fraudulent behavior, and the technical violations constituted a very small percentage of the money raised by the campaign. 

The Federal Election Commission released the negotiated settlement on Aug. 11 after Audit staff reviewed the individual contributions for the committee.