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Mark Kirk Accused of Violating Campaign Finance Law

The ex-wife of Sen. Mark Kirk has accused the Illinois Republican of violating federal campaign finance law by obscuring payments made from his re-election account in the 2010 cycle to his then-girlfriend.

Kimberly Vertolli, who divorced Kirk three years ago, filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission late last year alleging that Kirk’s campaign paid Dodie McCracken $143,000 but did not list her as a payee on reports filed with the FEC because she was a subcontractor for the Patterson Group, an ad agency. The Chicago Tribune first reported the charge earlier today.

Kirk’s campaign provided the Tribune with a written response it sent to the FEC saying the payments to McCracken didn’t have to be disclosed because only checks written to primary contractors must be reported — a premise with which one attorney interviewed by the newspaper agreed.

“There’s a general problem in campaign finance reporting,” attorney Brett Kappel told the Tribune. “It’s easy to set up corporations and subcontractors and avoid disclosure of facts the general public might be interested in and impact how they vote.”

Vertolli derived financial benefit from Kirk’s re-election bid. The Mark Kirk for Senate campaign paid Athens & Sparta Counsel — a firm formed by Vertolli and run out of her home in Alexandria, Va. — $40,000 in January 2011 for a retainer and 83 hours of “legal research,” according to FEC filings.

The FEC confirmed that it had received a complaint from Vertolli but did not discuss the matter further with Tribune reporters.

Kirk was released from a rehabilitation center this month after suffering a stroke in January.

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