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Democratic Party of Georgia files FEC complaint against Rep. Buddy Carter

Rep. Buddy Carter (GA-01)
Rep. Buddy Carter (GA-01)
Published: Aug. 11, 2021 at 8:06 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Democratic Party of Georgia has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Committee against Republican Rep. Buddy Carter (GA-01) and the Buddy Carter for Congress campaign for alleged illegal campaign spending.

The Democratic Party of Georgia is arguing that Rep. Carter and his campaign’s expenditure of funds for a statewide television ad qualifies him as a candidate for U.S. Senate, though Rep. Carter has not announced his candidacy. In the complaint, the Party states, “the spending of over $50,000 on airtime in media markets outside of one’s congressional district is a clear demonstration of promotional, partisan spending that does not qualify as testing-the-waters” of a possible run.

On July 13, 2021, Rep. Carter’s campaign sent a release regarding a new television ad to run in connection with the 2021 MLB All-Star Game. The MLB previously moved the game from Atlanta to Denver, due to the League’s concerns over voting rights in Georgia after Gov. Brian Kemp signed the Election Integrity Act of 2021 into law. In the release, the campaign said the ad would “[target] the radical left, big business and big tech for canceling Georgia and America. The ad will run statewide.”

In their complaint, the Democratic Party of Georgia says Rep. Carter’s campaign spent $75,000 to air the television ad, $50,000 of which was spent to air the ad in markets outside the 1st congressional district of Georgia, including in the Atlanta media market.

The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 defines a candidate for federal office, in part, as anyone who has fundraised or spent more than $5,000 towards a campaign. The Act requires candidates for federal office to “designate in writing a political committee...to serve as the principal campaign committee,” and this designation must “be made no later than 15 days after becoming a candidate.” For candidates who wish to change an existing Statement of Organization, the window to take formal action with the FEC is shortened to ten days.

If Rep. Carter were to formally announce a run for U.S. Senate, his campaign would be required to update their State of Organization with the FEC from a House campaign to a Senate campaign within ten days, according to the Federal Election Campaign Act.

As of Wednesday, August 11, the website for Rep. Carter’s campaign is soliciting donations, but it does not state whether Rep. Carter is running for reelection in the U.S. House of Representatives or running for the U.S. Senate seat currently occupied by Sen. Raphael Warnock. Rep. Carter’s campaign Statement of Organization with the FEC states that he is running for the U.S. House of Representatives in Georgia’s 1st congressional district. His campaign’s Statement of Organization is dated September 25, 2013.

Rep. Carter has previously stated his intention to run as a Republican for the U.S. Senate if former Heisman trophy winner and former UGA football player Herschel Walker does not announce his candidacy. Rep. Carter confirmed his intention to run in an interview with WTOC on April 19, 2021.

The complaint requests that the FEC begin an investigation into possible violations of the Federal Election Commission Act by Rep. Carter and his campaign. The complaint also asks the FEC to determine a possible start date of Rep. Carter’s campaign for U.S. Senate under the Act. If the FEC determines violations were made, the Democratic Party of Georgia requests that Rep. Carter and his campaign disclose all expenditures, be prohibited from committing further violations and be fined “the maximum amount permitted by law.”

Rep. Carter’s office released the following statement in response to the complaint:

“This is a desperate attempt by Georgia Democrats to distract from Joe Biden, Raphael Warnock, and Nancy Pelosi’s reckless agenda that’s driving up prices on nearly everything, keeping our borders open to criminal gangs, bankrupting our children’s future, and taking away our health care choices. I’ll never back down when it comes to standing up to their sick new religion of cancel culture and inserting their divisive politics into every facet of life from our children’s school to the military to baseball.”

Read the full complaint below:

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