A complaint filed by a national nonprofit with the Federal Election Commission accuses Sen. Gary Peters of “using his campaign website to illegally coordinate with outside organizations that support his candidacy.”
The complaint was filed December 17 by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a non-partisan ethics watchdog.
According to the complaint, Peters used a page on his campaign website to instruct “organizations with which he is not permitted to coordinate to run advertisements beneficial to his campaign.”
“This is not general candidate or campaign information and not in the usual format as that provided to the general public. Rather, Peters provided detailed content for ads and markets in which to run the ads based upon the campaign’s internal data and advertising needs, and provides it in a format designed to directly communicate with outside organizations,” the complaint continues.
A group called VoteVets.Org Action Fund then republished campaign materials in the form of ads and has so far spent $1.4 million to run ads in support of Peters, FACT claims.
Peters’ campaign website allegedly posted detailed content for ads, including “messaging, photos, and b-roll videos,” FACT said in a press release.
In one instance, Peters shared information about his support for the military and his commitment to veterans. A few days after he posted these materials, VoteVets.Org Action Fund republished Peters’ campaign materials in the form of television ads, FACT claims.
“The ads used each type of material provided: the ads’ narration was nearly identical to the six specific messages highlighted and was read over photos and b-roll video from the Peters webpage,” FACT said in its news release.
A spokesperson for Peters’ campaign called the complaint “frivolous” when speaking with The Detroit News.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time a United States Senate candidate has apparently utilized their campaign website to coordinate with and provide campaign materials to an outside organization,” stated Kendra Arnold, executive director of FACT. “The actions of Senator Peters, his campaign for re-election, and VoteVets.Org Action Fund are a classic example of this and should be investigated thoroughly in order to uphold the integrity of campaign contribution limits and contribution source prohibitions.”
Republican John James, Peters’ 2020 opponent, faced a similar complaint during the Republican primary to take on Sen. Debbie Stabenow in 2018. A Republican opponent in the primary race accused James’ campaign of coordinating with an outside super PAC on political advertisements.
The FEC voted 2-2 when determining whether or not a violation was committed. The tie vote ended the investigation of the complaint against James.
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