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Matthew Sanderson Comments on Complaint to Target Alleged Laundered Donations to Mike Lee

June 5, 2014, The Salt Lake Tribune

Matthew T. Sanderson is quoted by The Salt Lake Tribune concerning the implications of campaign finance violations for elected officials. The article specifically focuses on the illegal campaign contributions made to Senator Mile Lee by indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson. While, The Alliance for a Better Utah is preparing a federal election complaint, experts reveal that Lee's campaign will likely not suffer. For the complete article, please visit The Salt Lake Tribune's website.

Excerpt taken from the article.

Matt Sanderson, a campaign finance law attorney with the Washington, D.C., firm Caplin & Drysdale, said the Federal Election Commission has gone after these so-called "straw donors" in the past.

"They have come down hard on people who have done that, both entities and individuals," Sanderson said, "and they've repeatedly penalized them."

The FEC can impose only civil penalties, but if there is a "knowing and willful violation," it can be referred to the U.S. Department of Justice for criminal prosecution.

It is unlikely, however, that the FEC would go after the Lee campaign.

"From the campaign's perspective, it's relatively opaque as to where the money is originally coming from," Sanderson said. "All they see is a check coming in from donors X, Y and Z. It's impossible to tell where donors X, Y and Z got that money."

If the FEC does pursue the case, it could take years for the matter to run its course, Sanderson said. Any fines usually are for the amount in question — in this case the $50,000 — multiplied by some other figure, depending on the severity of the violation.




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