The Federal Election Commission is looking into whether Mississippi Conservatives PAC violated campaign finance law in its bid to help re-elect Mississippi U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran.
The inquiry, sent as a Request for Additional Information, or RFAI, provides another bit of drama in a heated primary battle in which Cochran narrowly defeated state senator Chris McDaniel.
The FEC, which monitors spending in federal elections, notified the political action committee that it may have failed to file one or more “24 hour reports,” which track “last minute” independent expenditures.
Political action committees are required to file the reports within the 24-hour window for any expenditures $1,000 or greater made between two and 20 days before an election. The regulation is meant to increase oversight as elections draw near.
The FEC also pressed the PAC on $15,000 it paid “Winning Edge,” a political consulting firm based in Dallas. The date listed for the expenditure did not match an entry on a schedule that the PAC filed, according to the FEC letter.
The PAC has until Aug. 1 to reply to the FEC letter, after which point it could face an audit or an enforcement action.
Backed by Henry Barbour, the nephew of former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, Mississippi Conservatives spent heavily in support of Cochran in the arduous battle against the tea party-backed McDaniel.
McDaniel drew approximately 2,000 more votes than Cochran in an initial primary, held June 3. But he did not surpass the 50 percent threshold to win the party nomination.
In the June 24 run-off, Cochran came out ahead by around 7,000 votes. That increase was largely attributed to get-out-the-vote drives and ad campaigns which focused heavily on black voters.
The McDaniel campaign says that thousands of people illegally cross-voted, voted in the Democratic primary on June 3 and then voted in the GOP run-off. Other McDaniel supporters have claimed that the Cochran campaign paid blacks to cast votes for the incumbent.
“Requests for Additional Information are generated by the Commission based on the review of campaign finance finance reports submitted by committees,” Christian Hilland, a public affairs specialist for the FEC, told The Daily Caller.
Mississippi Conservatives PAC has not responded to a request for comment from TheDC.