Joe Carr's Campaign Made $200K Loan to Company Owned by Andy Miller

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A company owned by right-wing millionaire Andy Miller received a $200,000 loan from Joe Carr's Senate campaign. The company, Life Watch Pharmacy, in turn paid the campaign $9,564.54 in interest on the loan.

Since Miller has already reached the maximum for how much he can give personally, the question is whether this amounts to an end-run around campaign finance limits. Loans from campaigns to corporations are "rare," an election law specialist told the Scene.

Miller has funded Tea Party causes around the state and was the driving force behind Lou Ann Zelenik's challenge to Diane Black in the 2012 6th District GOP congressional primary. His super PACs ran more than a quarter of a million dollars worth of anti-Black ads, accusing the very conservative congresswoman of being soft on Islam and sharia law.

It is unclear why a company owned by Miller would need a loan from Carr's cash-strapped campaign. In 2012, Miller was investigated by the Registry of Election Finance for allegations he used a political action committee to skirt state limits.

Email and phone attempts to reach the Carr campaign were unsuccessful.

On June 2, the Federal Election Commission requested additional information after examining Carr's initial first-quarter disclosures, which the campaign filed in April. At issue was "a receipt/contribution without an explanation that appears to be from a limited liability corporation."

At the time, Carr campaign manager Donald Rickard said in a statement that the FEC was seeking to clarify a few items.

"They have never said we have done anything wrong," Ricard wrote. "The receipt you are inquiring about was not a contribution but was rather a receipt and was filed as such on line 15 as a ‘other receipt’ on our Schedule A. We will be filing an amended form to clarify for the FEC by their deadline.”

That amended disclosure, filed on July 6, shows several changes. The first version, a 123-page document, did not list any loans or obligations. The amended report, now 153 pages, shows this:

LoanLineItem.jpg

That is the $200,000 loan the campaign made to Life Watch Pharmacy, a limited-liability company owned by Miller. There are no prohibitions against campaigns making loans to companies, but according to federal campaign finance regulations, the interest paid by a single-member LLC like Life Watch may be attributed to that member as a contribution.

The LLC is also required to provide documentation that it is eligible to make the contribution. There is none in either the amended filing or in a response from the campaign to the FEC.

Other than the line item, there is no document disclosing the terms of the loan from Carr's campaign to Life Watch. A record appears under "debts and obligations" that lists the $200,000 loan, but it is unclear whether the amount is to or from the campaign. Further, there is no disbursement record for the loan in the summary.

In another oddity, Carr's campaign revised down both its overall contributions for the quarter and for the cycle. Instead of reporting $856,720 in total donations, Carr now lists $777,922. Cash on hand revised down as well, from $466,823 to $431,598.

Carr's campaign also amended its 2013 filing, listing the Life Watch loan, but without any details about it and without any record of interest received.

After President Barack Obama's re-election, Miller wrote an angry op-ed about the state of the country which defeated Mitt Romney:

In looking at the electoral map, it is clear that the states themselves are not the key element. The blue areas are counties with big cities filled with elitist intellectuals and government-dependent millions tightly packed into ever-declining neighborhoods. ... These cities are the repositories of big government, poverty, massive dependency and cobbled-together constituencies who often have little in common except that they are part of the Democratic Party. They vote lock-step with the people who promise continued goodies and continued protection from the "evil rich."

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