Monday, Sept. 1, 2014

Sen. Mike Lee says he has 'absolutely no knowledge' of alleged illegal campaign donations

By Lisa Riley Roche, Deseret News

Published: Thu, June 26 8:25 p.m. MDT

 Sen. Mike Lee said Thursday that neither he nor anyone on his campaign knew about $50,000 in contributions being made in other people's names as alleged in a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Sen. Mike Lee said Thursday that neither he nor anyone on his campaign knew about $50,000 in contributions being made in other people's names as alleged in a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission.

(Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike Lee said Thursday that neither he nor anyone on his campaign knew about $50,000 in contributions being made in other people's names as alleged in a complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission.

The complaint from the left-leaning Alliance for a Better Utah asks the FEC to investigate allegations that Lee, R-Utah, accepted so-called "straw donations" during his 2010 Senate race and should have reported the short sale of his Alpine home.

"If anyone used straw donors to contribute to my campaign, I don't support that. I wholeheartedly reject that," the Utah Republican told KSL Newsradio's "Doug Wright Show." "And if that did happen, that happened unbeknownst to me. I have absolutely no knowledge of that happening."

He said if someone was using straw donors to contribute to his campaign, neither he nor anyone on his campaign team knew.

"None of us had any idea about it," Lee said.

Jeremy Johnson, the person alleged to have engaged in that activity, a violation of federal election law, "is someone who did himself donate to my campaign. He is also someone I never met," Lee said.

The allegation surfaced in a recently released search warrant affidavit in the ongoing criminal investigation into former attorneys general Mark Shurtleff and his successor, John Swallow, by the FBI, the Salt Lake County district attorney and the Davis County attorney.

According to the affidavit, Johnson said Swallow told him he could contribute $100,000 — well above the $2,500 federal limit — to Shurtleff's brief Senate campaign by giving the money to other people to donate.

Johnson also reportedly said Swallow told him he could do the same thing for Lee's campaign, and he did so in the amount of $50,000.

Shurtleff had said he had no knowledge of Swallow telling Johnson to contribute through other people. Swallow's attorney, Rod Snow, said Swallow "believed the individuals who were making contributions were using their own funds."

Alliance for a Better Utah spokesman Isaac Holyoak said Lee is responsible for his campaign, regardless of what he may or may not know.

"Legally, ignorance can be a defense. As far as publicly, as far as professionally, as far as the citizens of Utah are concerned, it's not a defense because he's ultimately responsible," Holyoak said. "This is his campaign. He's running the show."

Holyoak said the complaint includes allegations that Lee in effect accepted improper campaign donations from the company that took a loss in the short sale of Lee's home and the contributor who purchased it and leased Lee a new house.

Email: lisa@deseretnews.com, Twitter: DNewsPolitics

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1. There You Go Again
Saint George, UT,
June 26, 2014

"...absolutely no knowledge...".

Mike Lee indicts the Democrats for the same dog ate my homework excuse.

Yet... Mike Lee feels it is okay to offer the same explanation.

Mike Lee would call someone who played that game a hypocrite.

I would agree with his assessment.

2. GaryO
Virginia Beach, VA,
June 26, 2014

Gosh, in the picture, he looks completely innocent . . . kind of a like a young Rush Limbaugh.

There's no way anyone who looks like that could be involved in anything illegal.

Just because Swallow and Shurtleff happen to be Republicans, crooks, and ruthless exploiters who routinely violated the public trust, it doesn't mean Mike Lee is.

. . . I mean, come on, just because he's a Republican and looks kind of like Rush Limbaugh doesn't necessarily make his motives, his ethics, and his morality questionable, does it?

3. TRUTH
Salt Lake City, UT,
June 26, 2014

This is just another PHONEY scandal........not even a smidgen.....the press sometimes just reports on washington political in fighting, these kinds of stories should never see the light of day....besides it was a video, and what difference does it make?

4. DN Subscriber
Cottonwood Heights, UT,
June 26, 2014

The left always tells you who they fear.

They see anyone who is a threat to their (horrible!) agenda and they set out to destroy them. The left is very adept at "the politics of personal destruction" and using surrogates to carry out the dirty work so that their candidates can call for polite campaigns while reaping the benefits of dirty tricks.

This allegation from "...left-leaning Alliance for a Better Utah..." will eventually be proven false, but meanwhile they get millions of dollars in free anti-conservative publicity by news media "reporting a story."
D
This is the same sort of despicable trick that Senator Reid pulled on Mitt Romney repeating a baseless and anonymous rumor that Mitt Romney didn't pay his taxes,

And the same as the endless allegations filed against Sarah Palin (not a single one of which had any merit) but every one requiring her to respond and run up huge legal fees, and smearing her political future.

The same sort of breathless reporting on baseless and dismissed politically motivated attacks on successful Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, a great potential Presidential candidate.

We need "loser pays" to stop these abuses!

5. Herbert Gravy
Salinas, CA,
June 27, 2014

Oh boy. Let the "games" begin. EVERY candidate should be investigated for this exact same thing. Let's not limit it to Constitution-loving conservatives.