USDC Campaign-Finance Charges Heat Up

Ian P. Murphy |

WASHINGTON — Public watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility & Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint last week with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against U.S. Dry Cleaning Corp., Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) and the senator's campaign in connection with an alleged violation of campaign-finance laws.
CREW charges that the company reimbursed four employees and their spouses for $38,400 in illegal campaign contributions to David Vitter for U.S. Senate in order to obtain the senator's assistance in receiving federal stimulus funds. One of the four employees, Jamal Ogbe, told the New Orleans Times-Picayune early this month that USDC reimbursed him for a $4,800 contribution to Vitter's campaign.
Campaign-finance law prohibits corporations from making contributions to federal candidates, and prohibits "conduit" contributions in which a corporation reimburses individuals' contributions. The law also bars candidates from accepting such contributions. "The FEC should investigate to determine the extent of U.S. Dry Cleaning's campaign-finance law violations, as well as whether Sen. Vitter knowingly participated in this illegal scheme," says Melanie Sloan, CREW's executive director.
"Corporate conduit contribution schemes like the one described by Mr. Ogbe rarely involve a single employee," she adds. "Investigations of such schemes often show that a corporation has used its employees as straw donors to funnel tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to members of Congress in an effort to obtain an unfair advantage over competitors."
CREW is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, visit www.citizensforethics.org.

About the author

Ian P. Murphy

Freelance Writer

Ian P. Murphy is a freelance writer based in Chicago, and was the editor of American Drycleaner from 1999 to 2011.

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