Metro-East News

Complaint against McCarter campaign alleges improper expenditures, donations

Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon
Sen. Kyle McCarter, R-Lebanon

A Republican Party official from Mount Vernon has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission accusing Kyle McCarter of using state campaign funds in his congressional campaign.

Attempts to reach McCarter for comment were not successful.

McCarter, a Republican from Lebanon, is a state senator and has a state campaign fund. He’s running in the primary against U.S. Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville. The winner will run as the Republican in the November election for the 15th Congressional District. So far, there’s no Democratic candidate in the district, which leans Republican.

The complaint was filed earlier this month by Richard Stubblefield, who is the Jefferson County Republican Party chairman. Stubblefield said he filed the complaint in his individual capacity, not as a GOP official, and that there was no involvement by the Shimkus campaign or by the Republican Party.

Stubblefield, now retired, said he taught government at Mount Vernon Township High School.

“I think that ethics in politics is a big thing,” he said. “I think that both sides, Republican and Democrat, have to play by the rules.”

I think that ethics in politics is a big thing. I think that both sides, Republican and Democrat, have to play by the rules.

Richard Stubblefield

Stubblefield’s complaint alleges that “it has become clear” that McCarter used money from his state campaign fund to advance his congressional campaign. Stubblefield alleges that McCarter’s state campaign fund hired a political consultant, Isaiah Consulting Group, to do work for McCarter’s congressional campaign.

State and federal campaign funds aren’t supposed to be intermingled, and are governed by different rules. For example, corporations can’t contribute directly to federal campaigns, but in Illinois they can contribute to state campaigns.

McCarter’s state campaign paid Isaiah $33,000 in the months leading up to McCarter’s announcement in October that he would seek the congressional nomination. Even though his state Senate term runs through 2018, McCarter has said Isaiah had been hired for an eight-month contract to do work related to his state Senate seat.

However, the News-Democrat reported that Isaiah Consulting’s owner, Elizabeth Van Holt, appeared with McCarter when he announced his congressional candidacy on Oct. 7 at an event in Highland.

McCarter, when asked afterward about Van Holt’s attendance at the event, said she had been hired at that point to work on his congressional campaign.

“That’s something totally different,” McCarter said in November. “I’m not disassociating myself from her. She has a new role on my campaign, but the eight-month contract I had with her was completed.”

Stubblefield, in his complaint, said McCarter’s federal campaign has not disclosed any expenditures to Van Holt or to Isaiah Consulting.

Shimkus campaign manager Kayleen Carlson said the issue matters to voters.

“The facts clearly indicate that Senator McCarter has broken FEC laws by accepting illegal contributions and illegally paying for campaign personnel,” Carlson said. “Unfortunately in Illinois, this is not the first time we have seen blatant disregard for the law from an elected official. If Senator McCarter cannot follow basic FEC laws, how can he be trusted to represent the people of central and Southern Illinois in Congress?”

If Senator McCarter cannot follow basic FEC laws, how can he be trusted to represent the people of central and southern Illinois in Congress?

Kayleen Carlson, Shimkus campaign manager

Stubblefield’s complaint also alleges that McCarter’s federal campaign fund has received donations directly from corporations and has received donations from individuals that exceed the $2,700 federal limit on individual contributions.

Stubblefield’s complaint was prepared by Chicago attorney Laura Jacksack, who specializes in election law and is a member of the Republican National Lawyers Association.

McCarter enjoys support from Tea Party-type groups and is running to the right of Shimkus. McCarter has portrayed Shimkus as a Washington insider who isn’t conservative enough.

The 15th Congressional District starts in the Collinsville area, then fans out to the east, stretching from the Danville area in the north to the southern tip of Illinois.

Brian Brueggemann: 618-239-2475, @B_Brueggemann