Maggie Haberman at Politico reports:
President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign was fined $375,000 by the Federal Election Commission for campaign reporting violations — one of the largest fees ever levied against a presidential campaign, POLITICO has learned.
The fine — laid out in detail in FEC documents that have yet to be made public — arose from an audit of the campaign, which was published in April. POLITICO obtained a copy of the conciliation agreement detailing the fine, which was sent to Sean Cairncross, the chief lawyer for the Republican National Committee, one of the groups that filed complaints about the campaign’s FEC reporting from 2008.
“$375,000 is a huge fine,” said Republican election lawyer Jason Torchinsky. “It may one of their top five- or 10-largest fines.”
But he added, “They’re also the first billion-dollar presidential campaign. Proportionally, it’s not out of line.”
FEC officials declined to comment on the fee or the existence of the agreement. But for context, failed Republican presidential nominee Bob Dole set a record for FEC fines on his 1996 campaign when he paid $100,000 two years later.
“At the time, the 2008 campaign was record breaking, with over 3 million grass-roots donors,” Obama campaign spokewoman Katie Hogan said. “The very few outstanding questions about the $750 million that was raised have now all been resolved.”
The major sticking point for the FEC appeared to be a series of missing 48-hour notices for nearly 1,300 contributions totaling more than $1.8 million — an issue that lawyers familiar with the commission’s work say the FEC takes seriously. The notices must be filed on contributions of $1,000 or more that are received within the 20-day window of Election Day.
More than half of those contributions were transferred from the Obama Victory Fund,a joint committee between the campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Sources said the fine resulting from the settlement agreement has been paid, with $230,000 coming from the Obama campaign’s coffers and the remainder from the DNC.
The document outlined other violations, such as erroneous contribution dates on some campaign reports. The Obama campaign was also late returning some contributions that exceeded the legal limit.
For critics of the Obama campaign, the audit was a reminder of other reporting errors by the 2008 effort, which campaign officials said they tried to correct in real-time. But independent experts, including former FEC commissioner Michael Toner, said after the audit was released that the infractions were relatively minor, given the scope of the campaign.