After Sen. Dean Heller’s campaign admitted that his son’s production company provided social media consulting services to their campaign “below market rate” and at a “cheap discount”—essentially admitting to violating campaign finance laws—Heller had yet another very bad day in the press:
The Daily Beast: Heller Campaign Accidentally Cops to Illegal Corporate Contribs
Sen. Dean Heller’s campaign has been paying his son’s company to advise the campaign on digital strategy, according to a report this week from HuffPost. It’s generally legal for a campaign to pay a candidate’s family member for services rendered. But in trying to improve the optics of its own familial payments, the Heller campaign appears to have accidentally admitted to accepting illegal corporate contributions.
A spokesperson for the campaign told HuffPost that Harris Heller’s company, Heller Enterprises, “produces quality content at a cheap discount to the campaign.” Emphasis added, because services offered to campaigns at below-market rates are considered in-kind contributions from the people or entities providing the services. In this case, it was an incorporated entity doing so. Though the Heller campaign has paid the candidate’s son personally, all of its FEC-disclosed social-media consulting expenses—the ones the campaign said were offered at a discount—went to his company, not to Harris Heller himself.
That’s a problem. It’s illegal for campaigns to accept contributions, even in-kind, from corporations. In trying to explain away a practice that was entirely above board, the Heller campaign appears to have copped to a different, far more serious offense.
The Nevada State Democratic Party plans to file an FEC complaint today. “The Heller campaign has already admitted to this unethical and deceptive arrangement,” spokeswoman Sarah Abel told me in a statement. It’s a notable unforced error for Heller, who’s already facing an uphill climb to re-election this year.
Las Vegas Review-Journal: Dems say work by Dean Heller’s son violates campaign law
State Democrats are accusing GOP Sen. Dean Heller of failing to report potentially illegal discounted services his campaign received from his son’s music production company.
Heller’s race is the most closely watched Senate contest this year. He admitted to receiving “a cheap discount” from Harris Heller for creating content for his campaign, including photos, videos and social media posts. The campaign paid Heller’s son’s production company, Heller Enterprises, $52,500 for its services since 2016.
The campaign paid another digital advertising firm more than $50,000 for ads in a single month.
If the price of the services from Heller Enterprises was reduced, federal election law requires it must be reported as an in-kind contribution. Heller’s campaign failed to do so.
And because Heller Enterprises is a limited liability corporation, accepting in-kind donations from it could be illegal because federal candidates are prohibited from accepting corporate contributions.
The state Democratic Party on Thursday filed a new complaint with the Federal Election Commission. It marks the sixth complaint lodged by Democrats against Heller.
“Dean Heller’s campaign is not above the rules — federal law requires them to report all in-kind contributions to the FEC and prohibits them from accepting corporate contributions,” said Nevada State Democratic Party executive director Alana Mounce.
“Given the fact that the Heller campaign has already admitted to this unethical and deceptive arrangement,” Mounce continued, “the FEC should immediately launch an investigation and hold Sen. Heller accountable for once again trying to flout campaign finance laws.”
Nevada State Democratic Party has filed a new complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Sen. Dean Heller, after Heller’s re-election campaign and his son admitted to violating campaign finance laws last week. A report from the Reno Gazette-Journal found that Heller’s campaign has paid Heller Enterprises LLC at least $52,500 since July 2016 for “social media consulting services.” That’s not illegal. Heller Enterprises, a Utah-based production company whose sole employee is Heller’s son, is not a paid vendor for any other federal campaign. Both Heller’s campaign and his son said that Heller Enterprises provided services to the campaign at a “cheap discount” and was “paid below market rate.” But democrats say that’s the real problem for two reasons… corporations are strictly prohibited from donating to federal campaign committees, and these in-kind contributions were never reported to the FEC.