FEC Slaps Rand Paul’s PAC With Big Penalty For Improper Accounting

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That irritating thorn in Senate hearing witnesses’ side, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) must have been born cynical, disruptive, and testy, because he could hardly have achieved this level of contrariness in his 38 adult years on earth. He annoyed his neighbor Rene Boucher so much that the guy came over, tacked Paul, and beat him up. Paul suffered “five rib fractures, including three displaced fractures, and later required medical attention for pneumonia” NBC reported at the time. But who can really blame Boucher for wanting to punch out the representative’s lights?

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has fined the senator’s 2016 presidential campaign committee $21,000. The FEC claimed some financial contributions were mishandled. The Courier-Journal obtained those FEC documents. The Louisville Democratic Party’s former chair J. Russell Lloyd (deceased) filed the complaint.

The political action committee, Freedom for All Americans formerly known as  Rand Paul for President, Inc. has been Paul’s main campaign committee during his presidential run in 2015 to 2016.

The FEC found reason to believe Paul’s campaign committee violated federal rules, according to the commission documents. Those documents, which the Courier-Journal obtained, weren’t available to the public.

The FEC said Paul’s committee neither refunded $165,749 in contributions for the 2016 presidential election nor repurposed them for a different election. The Senator had 60 says to comply after Donald Trump won the GOP nomination.

Senior Director and Chief of Staff at the Campaign Legal Center Adav Noti said that Paul’s $21,000 fine was substantial. The nonpartisan organization was located in Washington DC. Noti said:

‘In the big picture, the FEC is legendary for not really penalizing anybody, so any penalty of significance from the FEC is noteworthy. And $21,000 — although it’s not a bank-breaker for a presidential campaign, it’s not nothing, either.’

Noti said that generally speaking the 60-day deadline was “ample time” for presidential campaigns and refund donors should they lose in the primary election:

‘It is not common for a presidential campaign to be penalized for failing to refund donors money as required by law.’

The director of the Campaign Legal Center also said the FEC found reason to believe Paul and his campaign committee accepted such excessive in-kind contributions and that RAND PAC and the campaign committee failed to properly disclose the contributions.

Noti told the Courier-Journal:

‘The allegations regarding the leadership PAC are quite serious, and the fact that the FEC in 2019 (which was extremely gridlocked, even by FEC standards) found reason to believe the law had been violated is an indication that the violations were also exceptionally well-substantiated.’

Thus far, the FEC documents have not been released to the public:

‘It will be important to see whatever explanation the full file provides as to why the FEC dismissed those violations in 2021.’

The FEC also showed that there was another violation, allegedly, to campaign finance rules. Lloyd’s complaint claimed Paul’s leadership PAC, Reinventing a New Direction PAC (or RAND PAC), contributed in-kind donations to Paul and his presidential campaign committee far above federal limits.

In addition to Lloyd’s complaint, the FEC’s Reports Analysis Division made a separate referral about Paul’s campaign committee, per the FEC documents.

The FEC’s Reports Analysis Division made a referral regarding Paul’s failure to “refund $257,658 of contributions within 60 days after Paul suspended his campaign in February 2016.”

The senator’s committees argued that there was no evidence Paul took “actions to explore a presidential run.”


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