Campaign finance watchdogs file complaint against Santorum

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The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 urge the FEC to investigate a recent Sunlight Foundation report that suggests the candidate or a staffer of his presidential campaign urged Republican donor Bill Dore to give to a super-PAC supporting Santorum, rather than Santorum himself.

Dore initially told the Sunlight Foundation that, during a private dinner shortly after Santorum won the Iowa caucuses, he told the candidate he'd like to contribute $1 million to his campaign, and Santorum told Dore about the Red, White and Blue Fund.

The super-PAC was founded by a former campaign staffer and spent around $7.5 million on the race in support of Santorum before he dropped out. Dore ultimately became the group's biggest donor, giving $2.25 million.

After a Sunlight Foundation reporter expressed surprise at Dore's suggestion that Santorum directed him to the super-PAC, Dore backtracked and insisted it was a campaign aide with whom he had the conversation.

Federal law states that a candidate or "agent of a candidate" shall not "solicit, receive, direct, transfer, or spend funds in connection with an election for Federal office … unless the funds are subject to the limitations, prohibitions, and reporting requirements of this act."

Candidates and their staff are banned by law from requesting contributions greater than what their campaign committees can receive — meaning no more than $2,500 for the primary campaign and $2,500 for the general campaign.

“If the statements of Bill Dore are correct and Rick Santorum or his aides directed Dore’s $1 million contribution to the super-PAC supporting Santorum’s presidential campaign, this would be a clear violation of federal campaign finance law,” said Democracy 21 president Fred Wertheimer in a statement accompanying the complaint.