The Federal Election Commission is questioning House Speaker John Boehner about $64,000 in excess campaign contributions immediately, according to a letter the commission sent to Boehner earlier this week.
Under federal campaign finance law, lawmakers can receive up to $2,500 for a primary and $2,500 for a general election. Political Action Committees can donate twice that amount.
The letter references donations mostly made at the end of 2011 and questions contributions from three individuals and six political action committees. The individual donations came from a Rockport, Maine, retiree, an Arlington, Va., telecom lobbyist and a former chair of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.
The political action committee donations came from groups including Dell Employee PAC, the Caesars Entertainment PAC and the American Staffing Association PAC.
The letter also questions whether Boehner failed to refund or redesignate other potentially excessive contributions within the required 60-day time frame, listing 10 individual donors whose refunds or redesignations may not have been issued by that deadline.
Bob Biersack, a former Federal Election Commission staffer now working for campaign finance watchdog Center for Responsive Politics, said the FEC sends out thousands of similar letters each year.
The difference in Boehner’s case, he said, is the scale. “But the scale for Boehner is unusual no matter what,” he said, noting that Boehner raises a significant amount of cash. Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., raised more than $2.8 million during the quarter referenced in the FEC letter.
Biersack said the letters themselves don’t indicate intentional malfeasance.
“What they’re doing is asking questions,” he said. “What’s the deal? This looks excessive. It looks like it’s odd. Explain it to us. It may well be that the campaign can come to them and say, it really was from a spouse, it really was for a different election. There’s a reason these things are called requests for additional information.”
Cory Fritz, a Boehner spokesman, said the campaign would respond to the letter.
“Large committees that process contributions from thousands of grassroots supporters each quarter routinely handle these questions,” he said. “We take compliance with FEC rules and regulations seriously, and will take all corrective action necessary.”