Katherine Harris just can’t catch a break.
The Federal Election Commission is questioning $60,000 in excess campaign donations to U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Longboat Key.
Harris, who was once in charge of Florida’s campaign financing rules and twice has been singled out for accepting illegal campaign donations during previous runs for office, is examining her campaign reports after the FEC flagged donations above the legal limit.
In a 12-page letter to Harris’ new campaign treasurer, Keith A. Davis, FEC officials list 45 donors who gave Harris more than $2,100 for her Sept. 5 primary contest against three other Republicans. Federal campaign laws prohibit individuals from giving more than $2,100 for any election.
In two of the cases cited by the FEC, Harris accepted donations just $1 over the legal limit. In another 16 cases, Harris collected exactly $2,100 over the limit. She took two donations of $6,300 each — the largest donations she accepted from individuals -$4,200 above the maximum limit.
“The acceptance of excessive contributions is a serious problem,” FEC campaign finance analyst Lauren Lien writes in the letter to the Harris campaign committee.
It looks worse than it really is, said Massie Ritsch, communications director for the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent, nonprofit group in Washington, D.C., that monitors money in politics.
In most cases, Harris’ staff will only have to redesignate the excess money to the general election, Ritsch said. He said sloppy bookkeeping appears to be the main culprit.
But given all of the attention Harris’ campaign has brought because of fundraising problems, he said, it’s surprising they would make such a novice mistake.
Even though she has not yet won the Republican nomination, Harris can begin collecting donations specifically for the November race.
These kind of mistakes happen when you replace your entire campaign staff.