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What is campaign fraud?

by | Nov 14, 2015 | Fraud Law

With the next presidential election around the corner, understanding campaign fraud is important for all citizens.

Politics is a part of everyday life in Texas and the rest of the country. With a looming presidential election, now is a good time for involved parties to review important elements of the process. This includes those acts which can lead to charges of unethical or even criminal behavior. Campaign finance is often at the heart of such charges. These white collar crimes can result in state or federal criminal charges.

A look at federal campaign finance laws

In 1971, Congress enacted the Federal Election Campaign Act. According to a document published by the U.S. Department of Justice, this legislation was an overhaul of the campaign financing process and has gone through multiple updates since its inception. One update of this campaign finance reform law occurred in 2002 and is known as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act.

Among the changes instituted in 2002 was the creation of a five-year felony charge for any campaign fund violation exceeding $25,000. Such a violation over $10,000 is deemed a two-year felony. In order to be deemed a crime of any sort, the violation must pertain to an amount of at least $2,000 in the course of one calendar year.

Campaign finance requirements in Texas

The Texas Ethics Commission outlines various requirements and penalties for violations for campaign financing based upon different offices. For example, there are unique rules that govern state legislators versus municipal or federal legislators. Each set of guidelines outlines things such as what financial information must be reported during a campaign and the stipulated timing for any such reports.

Requirements for state legislators stipulate that a campaign treasurer must be in place before any contributions are accepted or any campaign funds are spent. Contributions are not allowed to be accepted within a certain timeframe before or after a legislative session has begun or ended. Anonymous contributions or those from unions and many corporations are banned. These are just a few of the details outlined in the rules.

When problems are alleged

As in many situations, people can be accused of fraud for a variety of reasons. One U.S. Representative alleges he lent money to himself but the Federal Election Commissions asserts that the money came from his parents as noted by Despite his arguments, the representative is being ordered to pay all $355,000 plus an additional $15,000 to his parents in restitution. reported on how a media personality allegedly solicited extremely high contributions for a U.S. Senator. The journalist was then said to have paid the contributors back for their participation. He has pled guilty to the charges and could spend up to 16 months in prison.

What activities and candidates should do

The laws governing campaign fraud are complicated with many areas of gray. It is important to seek proper legal help when facing allegations of such activity.

Keywords: campaign, fraud, criminal charges, felony