The Federal Election Commission has questioned why Arizona Senate candidate Mark Lamb’s campaign spent almost $28,000 on “campaign attire.”
In two letters — one asking for an explanation of the July quarterly report and another asking about the October quarterly report — the FEC writes that a part of each report “discloses a disbursement that appears to possibly constitute personal use of campaign funds by the candidate.”
Lamb, a Republican sheriff of Pinal County since 2017, is looking to emerge from a GOP primary for the seat currently held by Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, an independent who used to be a Democrat and has not yet said if she’ll seek another term.
He touts his policy priorities as securing the border, stopping the flow of fentanyl into the county, supporting law enforcement and protecting gun rights.
The five different “campaign attire” purchases from a vendor called Revi total $27,935. Revi is listed as operating out of 1664 E. Dubois Ave. in Gilbert, Ariz., a three-bedroom home, according to Zillow.
The FEC asked Lamb’s campaign treasurer, Lisa Lisker, to review the spending “in question and provide clarification regarding its nature.” If the purchases are of a personal nature, the campaign should get reimbursed by the beneficiary, the FEC wrote.
It is illegal to use campaign funds for personal use. Personal use is defined by the FEC as the use of campaign money on something that “would exist irrespective of the candidate’s campaign or responsibilities as a federal officeholder.”
Candidates cannot use campaign money for clothes for political functions — such as a new suit or dress — but can buy clothing of de minimis value that’s used in the campaign like a T-shirt or hat with a campaign slogan, according to the FEC.
Shanna Ports, a senior legal counsel for the Campaign Legal Center who used to work for the FEC’s enforcement division, said the reports show a large amount of money spent on campaign attire, but that the campaign’s response, which is due to the FEC Nov. 24, should provide more clarity on whether the spending was permissible.
“These reports list a lot of money for the purpose of campaign attire,” Ports said. “I think we are waiting for the campaign to answer whether these purchases were made for a permissible purpose such as resale in a campaign store or if this was, in fact, an impermissible use of funds for the candidate or staffers’ personal apparel.”
An email and voicemail seeking comment from Lamb were not immediately returned.
In May, Lamb posted on Facebook that he was giving away a signed cowboy hat from his personal collection to a “lucky supporter.” He sells several clothing items on his campaign website, including a Lamb trucker hat and Sheriff Lamb for Senate T-shirts.