GOP Overspent in Georgia Race, Judge Says
The National Republican Senatorial Committee violated federal election law when it spent nearly $535,000 to help Paul Coverdell win Georgia's 1992 general election runoff for the Senate, a federal judge has ruled.
U.S. District Judge Harold H. Greene, in an order this week, directed the Federal Election Commission to begin "appropriate enforcement proceedings" against the committee. By law, the FEC must ask the courts to enforce penalties on election law violators who will not agree to penalties proposed by the agency.
FEC spokesman Ron Harris said the six-member commission, evenly divided between Republicans and Democrats, has not decided whether to appeal.
Donald Foley, executive director of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, called the ruling "a victory for all those who oppose seat-buying." GOP spokesman Dave Carney said, "We think we did the right thing."
The order grew out of a bitter partisan dispute over the FEC's failure to provide a definitive ruling on how much money the national senatorial committees of each party could spend in the unique runoff election, in which Coverdell unseated then-Sen. Wyche Fowler Jr. (D).
The GOP committee, which had spent the full $535,608 in the general election campaign, asked the FEC to rule that the runoff was a new election that would permit the committee to spend another $535,608. The Democratic committee disagreed but the commission split 3 to 3.
The GOP panel then spent nearly $535,000 more on the runoff election, while the Democratic committee limited its spending to the $200,000 left from the general election limit.
Greene said FEC regulations were clear that the runoff election was not a new general election.
© Copyright 1994 Associated Press