Sen. Kirk’s campaign might have broken FEC law, alleges ex-wife

The ex-wife of Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) says the senator might have violated campaign finance law, according to reports.

Kimberly Vertolli filed a Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint alleging possible misconduct by Kirk and his former girlfriend, Dodie McCracken, the Chicago Tribune reported Tuesday.

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McCracken, a public relations professional, was paid $143,000 by the campaign, but the money was paid to another company instead of disclosing her name. Vertolli, who is an attorney, alleges that this could be a campaign finance violation in her complaint, the Tribune reported.

“While Senator Kirk and Ms. Vertolli divorced amicably three years ago and she actively supported Mr. Kirk's 2010 Senate campaign, Ms. Vertolli has since filed a baseless complaint consisting of bitter personal attacks and is attempting to involve a federal agency in a divorce settled 36 months ago," said a spokesperson for Sen. Kirk.

"We responded to the FEC on December 31, 2011 and are confident that the Commission will dismiss the complaint.”

Vertolli filed the complaint with the FEC in November, an FEC spokesman confirmed to The Hill. The FEC would not comment further on the status or substance of the complaint because complaints are confidential until resolution.

The money was paid to The Patterson Group, for which McCracken had worked as a subcontractor, the Tribune learned. Experts told The Hill that under federal law it is acceptable to pay relatives and friends to work on your campaign, but that intentionally hindering disclosure that they are receiving the money could be a violation.

"Speaking broadly, intentionally obscuring the actual payee of a campaign expenditure is a violation," Joseph Birkenstock told the Tribune.

Vertolli also received $40,000 from the campaign, the Tribune reported. Her ex-husband hired her in August 2010 after she spoke in a magazine interview criticizing McCracken’s involvement with the campaign.

Kirk left a rehabilitation facility earlier this month after suffering a stroke in January, The Hill previously reported. The 52-year-old will likely lose some motor function, but should be unaffected mentally.

Daniel Strauss contributed to this report, which was updated at 2:46 with comment from Sen. Kirk's office.