WASHINGTON DC - There is an increasing number of calls for Democrat congressional candidate C.J. Baricevic to return nearly $40,000 in questionable campaign contributions after a nonpartisan watchdog group filed an FEC complaint outlining shady dealings between an Illinois law firm and Baricevic’s campaign. The complaint details how employees from the firm contributed $37,600, with many donations coming from low-level clerical staff on the exact same day, indicating an illegal “straw man” money laundering scheme.
Baricevic is running against incumbent Illinois Congressman Mike Bost.
After previous reports raised questions about the propriety of Baricevic’s campaign donations from lawyers who practice in his father, who serves as a St. Clair Country Judge, John Baricevic’s jurisdiction, this new complaint raises larger and more troublesome questions for Baricevic, his father, and the firm.
NRCC spokesman Zach Hunter wrote reporters: “C.J. Baricevic should immediately return the shady cash that is bankrolling his campaign. With the legality of tens of thousands of dollars in question, Baricevic owes it to the people of the 12th District to ensure an ethical and transparent campaign.”
St. Louis Post-Dispath story below:
D.C. group alleges 'straw man' donations in Metro East congressional race
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
By Kevin McDermott
A Washington, D.C.-based political watchdog organization is alleging that a Belleville law firm used its secretaries and other office staff as “straw men” to funnel illegally high campaign donations to Metro East congressional candidate C.J. Baricevic.
In a complaint filed Tuesday with the Federal Election Commission, the watchdog group Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust lays out an unusual contribution pattern by six lower-level employees of the Belleville firm Keefe, Keefe & Unsell, P.C. The group claims that pattern reveals an attempt to circumvent federal campaign contribution limits.
FEC records show each of the employees gave the maximum allowable $2,700, on the same day in March, to Baricevic, a Democrat. The complaint alleges that those circumstances, first identified in a Post-Dispatch investigation in May, point to the likelihood that the law firm was reimbursing the employees to make the donations.
If so, that would be a violation of federal election law, which makes it illegal to donate money to a candidate in someone else's name.
The complaint includes data showing that the job classifications of the donors — three secretaries, two legal assistants and a receptionist — average about $31,000 a year in salary in Illinois, meaning each employee contributed almost 9 percent of her salary in making the donations.
“Indeed, the likelihood that these contributions were made by these employees, in these amounts, and on the same day without reimbursement or direction by the partners at (the law firm) defies logic,” states the complaint. “A more reasonable conclusion is that the partners or (the law firm) reimbursed each of these employees for contributions made to . . . Baricevic, in violation of federal law.”
Read the full piece here.