The Federal Election Commission announced Tuesday that Rep. Lane Evans’ (D-Ill.) re-election committee agreed to pay $185,000 in civil penalties for violating campaign finance laws in raising more than $200,000 in union treasury funds for the 1998 and 2000 election cycles.
The agreement settled a lawsuit the agency brought against three Illinois political committees affiliated with Evans’ re-election bids. In addition to the fine assessed to the Friends of Lane Evans Committee, the Rock Island Democratic Central Committee has agreed to pay a $30,000 civil penalty for its role in the violations.
The FEC contended that the Evans Committee created a separate organization, the Victory Fund, during the 1998 election cycle in order to assist with the Congressman’s reelection campaign. The Evans Committee then largely directed the Victory Fund’s operations during two consecutive election cycles.
During this period the Victory Fund raised and spent more than $500,000. According to the FEC, Evans and his campaign staff raised a majority of the money contributed to the Victory Fund, including more than $200,000 in labor union treasury funds, the use of which is prohibited in federal campaigns.
The Victory Fund spent at least $330,000 on voter identification and get-out-the-vote activities promoting Evans. The FEC found that these campaign-focused activities were so closely coordinated with the campaign that they represented contributions from the Victory Fund to Evans.
The contributions exceeded federal limits and included funds from prohibited sources, in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act.
The FEC also found that the Rock Island Democratic Central Committee and the Evans campaign coordinated spending of approximately $18,000 on radio and newspaper ads and direct mail that advocated Evans’ election, which the FEC determined to be coordinated spending in excess of contribution limits. The Rock Island Committee also failed to register with the commission and file regular disclosure reports on its financial activity as required by law.
The agreement, signed by U.S. District Judge Joe Billy McDade in the Central District of Illinois, outlines the FECA violations. The defendants agreed to the settlement without admitting or denying the findings of the court.