/Wiggins again misused campaign funds for congressional race

Wiggins again misused campaign funds for congressional race

State Senator Brice Wiggins used state campaign funds to finance a Super PAC which is supporting his campaign for the 4th Congressional District Seat. This appears to be against federal election law. On Tuesday, Steven Palazzo’s campaign confirmed that a complaint about Wiggins’ spending on campaign activities was filed with the Federal Election Commission. According to records of the Federal Election Commission, Fight for Mississippi PAC received $165,000 from Wiggins’ state campaign fund in March. This money was used to air television ads in South Mississippi in support of Wiggins’ bid for the U.S. House Seat. Federal elections are generally prohibited by the United States. Federal laws and rules restrict the influence a candidate has with political action committees. These are supposed to act independently from the candidate. FEC opinions in the past have cited $50,000 donated by a candidate to a Super PAC as a violation of federal guidelines. However, the FEC stated that each case must be analyzed separately to determine if the contribution was improper. Fight for Mississippi PAC received $165,000 from Wiggins’ March state Senate campaign fund. The Super PAC ran pro-Wiggins TV ads in south Mississippi that were critical of Palazzo. This was specifically because Palazzo is currently under investigation by the U.S. House Ethics Committee for alleged misappropriation of campaign funds. Wiggins was initially asked by the Super PAC to comment on his alleged campaign mispending. Elizabeth Curtis, Alexandria, Va. is listed as the treasurer for the Super PAC. She did not respond to questions by Mississippi Today. Wiggins issued a statement to Mississippi Today after the article was published. Wiggins stated in the statement that neither the Committee to Elect Brice Wiggins Senator nor Brice Wiggins For Congress had received or seen any complaint at the time of Mississippi Today’s publication. The article today is based on an incorrect understanding of the law. This is another attempt by Mr. Palazzo, to avoid the real problem — that the people are tired D.C shenanigans.” This Wiggins’ second alleged violation of federal campaign spending laws this calendar year. Mississippi Today reported that Wiggins improperly channeled state campaign funds to his federal campaign fund. Wiggins replied in writing to a question about the issue in February. “We found Dec. 3 that congressional ads were incorrectly charged to a (state) Committee to Elect Brice Wiggins’ credit card.” “We corrected this Dec. 3. and the $1,170.07 cost was being reimbursed to state campaign together with a $10 reimbursement I made on Nov. 2.,” Wiggins wrote. Wiggins wrote that an amendment is being made to the FEC filing. He also stated that Palazzo will be challenged in the GOP primary for the 4th Congressional District seat. This district covers a large part of south Mississippi including three Gulf Coast counties. The 4th District race has been dominated by campaign finances for many months. The House Ethics Committee is investigating Palazzo, the incumbent for ten years, over allegations of campaign funds misusing and other issues. The House Ethics Committee was prompted to investigate by a report from the congressional watchdog agency. It claims Palazzo misappropriated campaign and congressional funds, used his office for his brother’s benefit, and used staff for personal errands. There have been reports that Palazzo and his wife used campaign funds to pay themselves and their former spouse nearly $200,000 through companies owned by them — including thousands to pay the mortgage, maintenance, and upgrades to Palazzo’s riverfront home. According to Mississippi Today, thousands of dollars were also question in Palazzo’s campaign spending on luxury restaurants, golfing, gifts, sporting events, resort hotels and golfing. Justin Brasell, Palazzo’s campaign manager, wrote in response to the allegations against Wiggins that he had misspended campaign funds. “Senator Wiggins, being a trial lawyer, would need to take time to learn the law before transferring $165,000 towards a super-PAC. In spite of Wiggins illegal activities, Congressman Palazzo won re-election. He stated that he was a trial attorney and would take the time to learn the law before transferring $165,000 to a super PAC. The complaint was shared with Mississippi Today. It stated that Wiggins had violated the (federal). Act by directing and transferring soft funds from his state campaign committee, to Fighting for Mississippi PAC. This super PAC clearly intends support Wiggins’ congressional race.”