WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission has determined that Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's 2000 Senate campaign violated federal campaign finance laws.
The federal agency fined Frist 2000, Inc., $11,000, according to a lawyer representing Frist's campaign and a watchdog group. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington had filed a complaint last year against Frist's 2000 campaign committee and received the FEC's findings Thursday.
The FEC found that Frist 2000, Inc., failed to disclose a $1.44 million loan taken out jointly by the campaign and Frist's 1994 campaign committee.
The Tennessee Republican, who was elected to the Senate in 1994, is not seeking another term and is weighing a possible bid for the presidency in 2008.
Federal law requires full disclosure of any loans taken out by campaign committees. Frist's 1994 campaign committee did disclose the loan to the FEC in January 2001, but the 2000 campaign did not, according to the FEC.
In an agreement reached with the Frist campaign committee, the agency said Frist 2000, Inc., violated the law by failing to report the loan in its January 2001 campaign finance report and did not properly report the repayment of the loan in a July 2001 report.
Jason Torchinsky, a lawyer representing Frist 2000, Inc., said the campaign settled the FEC complaint. "What the FEC suggested, we believe would have resulted in double reporting of the loan," Torchinsky said.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of the watchdog group, praised the FEC action.
"We have campaign finance laws, and everyone's supposed to abide by them," she said. "It's such a clear area of the law."