Fact-check: 2018 claim about O’Rourke campaign contributions has resurfaced

Our weekly check-in with the Texas Truth-O-Meter.

By Nusaiba Mizan, PolitiFact Texas/Austin American-StatesmanSeptember 7, 2022 3:26 pm, , ,

From PolitiFact Texas/Austin American-Statesman:

An old claim about campaign contributions to Beto O’Rourke’s 2018 U.S. Senate campaign has resurfaced in a popular Facebook post.

The post, formatted as a timeline, makes allegations of illegal actions by gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke. One of the claims, written in present tense for 2018, says: “FEC charges Illegal Campaign Contributions.”

PolitiFact Texas reached out to the current O’Rourke campaign. Chris Evans, communications director, wrote, “No, the FEC did not charge Beto or our senate campaign for illegal campaign contributions.”

Evans noted the FEC conducts reviews of finance reports and routinely requests additional details from campaigns. “In this case, the FEC asked a common question about a few donations from individuals with foreign addresses and contributions exceeding the federal limit,” Evans said. “The donations that had foreign addresses attached to them were made by U.S. citizens who were living overseas at the time, which is permissible. Any contributions above the federal limit were refunded to the contributors as is a common practice in federal races.”

Christian Hilland, deputy press officer at the Federal Election Commission, said in an Aug. 24 email that the Commission has civil jurisdiction over federal campaign finance law and reviews issues for enforcement on a case-by-case basis. For example if there is a violation, a campaign could receive a letter reminding it of compliance obligations or be ordered to pay a monetary penalty.

“Since this agency has civil jurisdiction, it doesn’t include the word ‘charge’ or ‘charges’ as part of its enforcement vocabulary,” Hilland wrote.

Back in autumn 2018, when O’Rourke ran and lost against U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, claims that the FEC made “charges” circulated on social media. The Associated Press debunked this in October 2018 and reported the claim stemmed from a September 2018 FEC letter that lists several contributions from people abroad and contributions that exceed federal contribution limits.

That letter requested more information about reported finances and pointed out issues so that the campaign can refund excessive contributions. O’Rourke’s campaign had formally responded to this letter to say the contributions from abroad were from people with valid U.S. passports and to address the other points listed in the FEC’s letter.

That was not the only time when O’Rourke’s Senate campaign received requests for additional information about finances. …

Read the full story at the Austin American-Statesman, and listen to an interview with PolitiFact Texas’ Nusaiba Mizan in the audio player above.

Radio interview produced by Sean Saldana

If you found the reporting above valuable, please consider making a donation to support it here. Your gift helps pay for everything you find on texasstandard.org and KUT.org. Thanks for donating today.