Meeks to pay $63,000 in FEC fines for financial improprieties

Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) has agreed to pay $63,000 to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for using funds from his campaign committee for personal expenses, misstating its finances and accepting contributions above federal limits during the 2004 election cycle.

Meeks will also refund to the committee about $10,000 in vehicle expenses from his own pockets. He already refunded about $7,000 in charges for a personal trainer and undocumented credit card bills after the FEC’s audit, which concluded in August 2006.

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The trainer cost $45 per hour, about $6,000 in total, and the committee told the FEC it was necessary to relieve the stress of being a candidate. The undocumented expenses included an airline ticket, lodging, clothing and cell phone accessories.

In the audit, the FEC found that Meeks’s campaign committee had misstated its receipts, disbursements and cash on hand by a total of $278,636 and didn’t keep proper records of contributions to other political committees and operating expenditures.

The committee had also accepted campaign contributions that topped established limits by $22,900. Those excessive contributions have been refunded.

The FEC found that a contribution from Advent Capital Management LLC that had previously been in question was, in fact, permissible.

In a statement issued at press time, Meeks said, “The audit has been on the public record for nearly two years now. Back then my campaign was volunteer driven. Its record keeping and the reporting practices were not what they should have been. The campaign has since moved to professionalize its compliance operation. It hired an expert firm to prepare and file all of its reports.”

He said he could have kept challenging the audit but wanted to conclude the matter.

“I wanted my campaign to put this matter behind us and keep moving forward.”