Ms. Ellen Weintraub, Chairman
May 30, 2003
Federal Election Commission
999 E Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20463
RE: Formal Complaint Against Edwards for President committee, Julius
Chambers, Treasurer; John Edwards, candidate for President; and individual
Respondents Tab Turner; Don Howarth; Suzell Smith; Stacy Kern; Robert Kern;
Elaine Reeves; Else Latinovic; Anita Latinovic; Vikki Sanchez; Donna Hosea;
Linda Moen, John Doe and Jane Doe, other unnamed donors to the Edwards
for President committee.
Dear Chairman Weintraub:
This is a formal complaint against the Edwards for President Committee,
John Edwards, and certain named and unnamed individual donors to the Edwards
for President campaign for violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act
of 1971, as amended ("FECA") and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of
2003 ("BCRA") ("Complaint").
The Complaint is filed pursuant to 2 U.S.C. §437g(a)(1) and 11
C.F.R. §111.4 by the American Conservative Union, Inc. ("ACU"). The
undersigned serves as Chairman of ACU, a 501(c)(4) non-profit corporation
and the nation's oldest and largest conservative grassroots lobbying organization.
This complaint is based upon numerous media reports documenting illegal
fundraising activities by and illegal contributions to Edwards for President,
several of which are referenced herein and/or attached as exhibits to this
Complaint. This Complaint is based on the published reports that Edwards
for President Committee and John Edwards and numerous donors and fundraisers
have violated the provisions of federal law related to fundraising for
and contributions to presidential campaign committees.
ACU hereby requests the Federal Election Commission to conduct an audit
of all contributions to the Edwards for President committee and
that no federal matching funds be authorized for or paid to the
Edwards for President committee until each contribution submitted for federal
matching funds has been specifically audited, the donors interviewed and
the funds deemed to be contributions given freely and voluntarily from
the donors' own resources and otherwise not in violation of federal campaign
According to numerous reports, donors to the Edwards for President Committee
were promised they would be reimbursed by their employer(s) for contributions
made to the Edwards campaign. Other reports and investigations reveal that
maximum level donors appear not to have the financial resources available
to have made the reported contributions from their own funds. Clearly,
a pattern has emerged of illegal fundraising and contributions involving
the Edwards for President campaign which demands action by the Commission
the payment of federal primary matching funds and further which requires
the imposition of penalties for violation of the law by those guilty of
The Edwards for President campaign has acknowledged some irregularities
and wrongdoing, but still not in a manner sufficient to remedy a
clear pattern of illegal activity reported in various public sources.
The Washington Post, April 18, 2003, Page A1, "Edwards Returns
Law Firm's Donations", by Thomas B. Edsall and Dan Balz Washington Post
Staff Writers reported that "The presidential campaign of Sen. John
Edwards (D-N.C.) announced yesterday it will return $10,000 to employees
of a Little Rock law firm after a law clerk said she expected her boss
to reimburse her for a $2,000 donation. Federal election laws prohibit
a person from funneling donations through someone else to conceal their
source. Such practices would enable the reimbursed to exceed the legal
contribution limit for individuals, recently raised to $2,000 from $1,000
per person per election."
However, the return of $10,000 does not begin to address the
pattern of illegal activity in which the Edwards campaign has engaged.
Published reports from the Center for Individual Freedom's website state
that twenty (20) persons identified as paralegals and nine (9) listed as
legal assistants employed by Turner & Associates PA in Little Rock,
Arkansas, contributed $2,000 each to the Edwards campaign after receiving
assurances that their contributions would be reimbursed. From this law
firm alone, more than $58,000 in suspicious contributions to the Edwards
campaign were received, yet only $10,000 was reported by the Edwards campaign
as being returned to the donors from that firm. See www.cfif.org, John
Edwards: An Oops for the Trial Lawyers' Presidential Candidate¸
posted April 24, 2003. See also "What John Edwards Money Said" by
John Samples, www.cato.org, posted on the website of the Cato Institute
on May 9, 2003.
Mr. Tab Turner, principal in the law firm (Turner & Associates PA)
which employs the suspicious Little Rock donors was a major donor to Sen.
Edwards political action committee during the 2002 election cycle, having
contributed $189,000 to the New American Optimists PAC, according to the
public records filed with the Commission. See Center for Responsive Politics,
Mr. Turner has been intimately involved in contributing to and fundraising
for political committees associated with John Edwards, including but not
limited to the Edwards for President Committee according to the public
records filed with the Commission.
Other newspapers have separately undertaken to investigate donors to
the Edwards for President campaign and have found similar illegal activities.
The Hill newspaper reported on May 7, 2003 that Edwards for President
campaign documents filed of record with the FEC reveal a pattern of illegal
contributions by low-level employees of law firms whose principals are
engaged in contributing to and fundraising for the Edwards for President
According to The Hill, "Donations to Edwards Questioned", by
Sam Dealy, the contributions from low-level employees contributing at the
maximum $2,000 level arrived on the same day along with contributions from
the partners and attorneys of the firms employing the individual donors.
Further, the FEC records reflect that contributions from spouses and other
family members were also made on the same dates as those from the low-level
employees of the law firms. No conduit reports were filed by the law firms
which employ the donor-employees.
According to The Hill, questionable contributions were received
from Respondents Stacy Kern; Robert Kern; Elaine Reeves; Else Latinovic;
Anita Latinovic; Vikki Sanchez; Donna Hosea; Linda Moen. Other individual
donors, based on public reports, have also violated federal law with sham
contributions to Edwards for President committee.
Principals of law firms who may have engaged in illegal fundraising
practices include Respondents Tab Turner, Don Howarth, Suzell Smith and
other trial lawyers may have engaged in coercing or facilitating contributions
from or through their employees to the Edwards for President campaign.
Clearly, the Edwards for President committee's return of a mere $10,000
not begin to remedy a pattern of clear violation of FECA by the campaign
and its donors and fundraising personnel.
The Respondents have violated numerous provisions of federal law, including
but not limited to:
|2 U.S.C. §441a(a)
||Making excessive campaign contributions
|2 U.S.C. §441a(f)
||Accepting excessive campaign contributions
|2 U.S.C. §441f
||Prohibitions on contributions in the name of another
|2 U.S.C. §441a(a)(8)
||Failure to report earmarked contributions / failure to report donor(s)
as conduit(s) for earmarked contributions
ACU demands a full and thorough investigation and audit of each donor
and each contribution to the Edwards for President committee and moves
to enjoin the payment to the Edwards for President campaign of any federal
primary matching funds until each donor's contribution has been reviewed
to insure its compliance with applicable federal law.
[See 26 U. S. C. §9034, limiting eligibility of primary matching
funds to lawful contributions].
Please contact me if you have further questions regarding this Complaint.
David A. Keene, Chairman American Conservative Union
I hereby swear upon penalty of perjury that the above and foregoing
Complaint is true and correct to the best of my knowledge and belief, based
upon the information from the public sources referenced herein.
David A. Keene