By Janet Williams
INDIANAPOLIS—Days after Republicans filed an ethics complaint against U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly for displaying on his Senate website a silent video of him with Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, Democrats have fired back against the incumbent’s GOP challenger, Mike Braun.
A complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission Wednesday accuses Braun of failing to report a $250,000 loan that he made to his own Senate campaign before the May primary within the required 48 hours of the receipt of the money.
But Josh Kelley, Braun’s campaign spokesman, said Democrats have it wrong and the report was filed on time. The campaign included a copy of Form 6, the document campaigns file when reporting late donations. It shows Braun reporting the $250,000 loan on time.
However, that donation is not available on the FEC website. A separate $386,000 loan that Braun made to his campaign on April 23 shows up as being reported on Form 6 within the required 48-hour timeframe.
Donnelly, the incumbent Democrat, is locked in a tight, competitive race against Braun, the Republican who upset two sitting members of Congress to win the nomination.
On Monday, Indiana Republicans filed a complaint against Donnelly with the Senate Ethics Committee accusing him of misusing his official office to post a campaign video of him with Kavanaugh.
Donnelly met with Kavanaugh last week and posted a video on his Senate website of him greeting the nominee at his office. Posting the video to his official Senate website is not an ethics violation, but it would violate ethics rules if it were to be used as part of his campaign.
Wednesday, Indiana Democrats filed the complaint with the FEC.
“Donnelly and his Democrat party bosses are just trying to distract Hoosiers from the ethical mistake of using his taxpayer-funded staff to provide video to create political commercials surrounding the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh,” Kelley said after producing the form showing the campaign filed the $250,000 within 48 hours of the April 23 donation.
Michael Feldman, a spokesperson for the Indiana Democratic Party, said what matters is the documentation that appears on the FEC website.
“No public record shows that Rep. Braun reported this loan as the law required. It remains clear that Congressmen Rokita and Messer, as well as Hoosier voters, weren’t aware that he made this loan in the critical weeks before the primary,” Feldman said.
The original document on the FEC website appears to be a fax sent to the secretary of the Senate that might have been mangled in transmission. View that document here.
Christian Hilland, a spokesman with the FEC, said legislation pending before Congress could fix issues like the one with Braun’s report by providing for an electronic transmission of campaign documents.
FOOTNOTE: Janet Williams is executive editor of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.