A PAC run by life partner and campaign manager of former Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Lisa McCormick has been fined $120,000 for failing to report campaign contributions and expenditures for a political action committee he ran.
The New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) found in a final decision released on Wednesday that the Central Jersey Democratic Leadership Committee, which was chaired by Jim Devine, failed to file contributions and expenditures for four years between 2005 and 2010.
The PAC is dormant, which makes collecting the fine nearly impossible.
“The law requires ELEC to impose penalties if candidates or committees violate the law. The agency doesn’t have the luxury of overlooking violations based on a violator’s ability to pay. Even so, the vast majority of respondents do pay their fines and fees,” said ELEC spokesman Joe Donohue. “ELEC’s legal staff concluded that the agency lacks the authority to impose penalties on individuals acting as a “de facto” treasurer. It determined James Devine , who was the chairman, fell into that category since the designated treasurer, Charles Betancourt, resigned after being found guilty of misappropriating funds from the committee.”
This circumstance was unusual. But it exposed a legal issue that we may have to proactively address through revised regulations or even by seeking new statutory authority.
Devine, who is also McCormick’s business partner in a small publishing business, saw his PAC charged in 2015 with nearly two dozen election law violations. Betancourt, who has been treasurer of the Central Jersey Democratic Leadership Committee, admitted in 2006 to embezzling more than $50,000 from the PAC. Devine, once a political operative in Union County, had a falling out with Democratic leaders more than a decade ago.
There are no allegations in the complaint against McCormick, who carried six counties in her challenge to U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez in the 2018 Democratic primary.
McCormick has not filed any reports with the Federal Election Commission, suggesting that she spent less than $5,000 on her Senate race.Devine
Editor’s note: This story was updated to include comment from ELEC regarding Jim Devine’s personal liability.