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FEC Closes Book on Case Involving Georgia Campaign Manager Who Embezzled Funds

The Federal Election Commission this week made public the final outcome of a lengthy case involving a former Congressional campaign manager who, during the 2004 cycle, embezzled about $35,000 in funds while running Robert Lamutt’s (R) failed House bid in Georgia’s 6th district.

Lamutt, a wealthy financial adviser and former state Senator who spent about $1.5 million of his own money on his unsuccessful bid to succeed now-Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) in the House, was defeated in a runoff that year by now-Rep. Tom Price (R).

The FEC and federal authorities began looking into the Lamutt for Congress campaign after committee staff discovered evidence that campaign manager Jack Thomas was using campaign funds for personal use and authorizing payments to family members.

In 2006, Thomas pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of mail fraud for writing unauthorized campaign checks to himself, his wife and his brother-in-law from September 2003 to February 2004. He was sentenced to four years probation and ordered to pay nearly $41,000 in restitution to the campaign committee.

In 2007, Thomas also signed a conciliation agreement with the FEC in which he acknowledged violating FEC laws and agreed to refrain from working or volunteering in federal political campaigns in any capacity involving the committee’s finances for five years.

Thomas avoided having to pay any fines to the FEC because he showed that he did not have the money to pay for what normally would have been a hefty penalty.

“Due to the mitigating circumstances presented by [Thomas’] financial condition, the Commission agrees to depart substantially from the civil penalty that the Commission would normally see for the violations at issue,— the FEC’s acting associate general counsel, Ann Marie Terzaken, wrote in the 2007 agreement.

The agreement did note that if evidence surfaced that Thomas had misrepresented his financial situation, an $80,000 fine would immediately be imposed.

The FEC was also investigation the Lamutt for Congress committee for possible violations of the “Millionaires’ Amendment— that was on the books in 2004. But after that section of the campaign finance law was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2008, the FEC dismissed that part of its investigation into the Lamutt for Congress committee.

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