A government watchdog group filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission on Friday, alleging that a nonprofit group run by Herman Cain’s campaign manager made illegal contributions to the Cain campaign.


Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed the complaint after the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Prosperity USA, which was owned and operated by Cain campaign manager Mark Block, helped kick-start the Cain campaign by paying for $40,000 in campaign trips and iPads.

“As hard as Mr. Cain is trying to prove himself a different kind of candidate, he still has to play by the same rules as everyone else,” said CREW executive director Melanie Sloan in a statement. “It is not sufficient for the Cain campaign to investigate itself. Rather, the FEC — the federal agency charged with enforcing campaign finance laws — must look into the matter.”

According to the allegations, Prosperity USA funneled the $40,000 through Americans for Prosperity, a nonprofit social welfare organization affiliated with the billionaire conservative brothers Charles and David Koch. Block ran Prosperity USA, which is the Wisconsin arm of Americans for Prosperity.

It’s illegal for a nonprofit to make contributions to a presidential campaign, nor can the payments be made through an intermediary.

“The complaint also alleges Mr. Block personally violated the Federal Election Campaign Act by authorizing the illegal corporate contributions as president of Prosperity USA, and then by accepting the illegal contributions as treasurer of Friends of Herman Cain,” the CREW statement read. “This makes Mr. Block the first person in the history of the Act to have both given and received the same illegal contributions. The complaint also alleges Mr. Block violated the Act by failing to disclose the Prosperity USA expenditures."