FEC audits Pombo’s campaign committee

A Federal Election Commission audit of former congressman Richard Pombo’s campaign committee revealed allegations of violations in eight areas of campaign finance reporting law but the 20-page document also spelled out the lawmaker’s efforts to either correct the problems or contest the federal agency’s conclusions.

To read the audit, click here.

The FEC concluded that Pombo’s campaign committee, between Jan. 1, 2003 and Dec. 31, 2004, among other findings, failed to report $18,752 in salary to his wife, Annette; received excessive and prohibited contributions, made accounting errors; failed to disclose the required occupation and name of employer on nearly a third of its contributors; did not report $42,336 in debts; and inaccurately reported the receipt date of some contributions.

Pombo’s committee responded to the FEC on each of the allegations with amended forms, documentation that showed a refund of the prohibited or excessive contributions or provided the required information. The lawmaker also challenged the agency’s assertions about the nature of some of the contributions.

In the allegations involving payments to Annette, the FEC concluded that she wrote checks in 2003 to herself in the amount of $18,752 that were not reported as salary. Auditors concluded that it was an illegal payment of campaign funds for personal use. Pombo’s committee subsequently filed amended forms that reflect the added salary.

The report doesn’t mention it specifically but some of the accounting violations probably rested with Randall Pombo, the former congressman’s brother and the campaign’s treasurer through July 2004. New campaign reporting laws coupled with the growing complexity of the job apparently outstripped Randall Pombo’s abilities and the campaign replaced him with a professional campaign treasurer, David Bauer.

In an article today in Roll Call, the Capitol’s newspaper, the Pombo audit was linked to recent comments made by officials of the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission about a fresh wave of investigations into campaign finance activities spurred by the high-profile corruption convictions in the Jack Abramoff scandal of last year. (Click here to read the story as posted by Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington.)

Pombo was one of 23 members of Congress whose 2002-2003 campaign finance reports have been audited and the results posted on the FEC web site. (Click here for the page of links to all the audits.)

In Roll Call, Pombo was quoted as saying that the discrepancies with his wife’s income involved lost or insufficient receipts for computer equipment and other expenses, which resulted in the campaign reporting the funds as salary.

The audit does not recommend any enforcement actions such as fines but it states that it may do so in the future.

Pombo, a seven-term incumbent in Congressional District 11, was defeated in November 2006 by Pleasanton Democrat Jerry McNerney.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen