Liberal philanthropist Stewart Mott, who claims "I've figured out how to be a fat cat again," has been accused of making illegal "independent expenditures" to promote John Anderson's presidential candidacy.
Mott, a General Motors heir and multimillionaire, said yesterday that the Federal Election Commission has challenged $95,181 he spent on radio and newspaper ads late last winter while a direct mail firm he owns, Mott Enterprises, was doing work for the Anderson campaign.
Mott, who was serving as an Anderson fund-raiser at the time, maintains that the expeditures were made completely independent of the campaign and are thus legal.
But an internal FEC legal analysis, reported in the Political Finance/Lobby Newsletter, states, "The receipt by Mott Enterprises of compensation while Mott was expending funds creates the presumption that Mott's expenditures were made by an arrangement, coordination or direction by Anderson or his agent."
Under federal law, individuals are prohibited from making political contributions over $1,000, a reform designed to diminish the influence of fat cat donors on the election process.
In the final weeks of Anderson's independent presidential effort, he said he was able to help keep the campaign afloat by extending $407,000 worth of credit for a direct mail fund-raising appeal. He expects this to be repaid with some of the $4.2 million in retroactive federal subsidies that Anderson received after the election.
Mott's credit extension has not been challenged by the FEC. However, he could be fined an amount equal to any expenditure found to be illegal.