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EXCLUSIVE: Florida Dem Candidate May Have Illegally Transferred Campaign Assets, Complaint Alleges

Screenshot/Senator Annette Taddeo/YouTube

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Gabe Kaminsky Investigative Reporter
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  • The Federal Election Commission (FEC) should investigate if a former Florida gubernatorial candidate now running for U.S. House illegally transferred assets between her two campaigns, a watchdog alleged in a complaint obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
  • Annette Taddeo released a congressional campaign ad in June that appears to have ripped footage from her gubernatorial campaign ad released roughly seven months earlier, the complaint said. 
  • “The law is quite clear—federal candidates cannot use funds or assets from a state campaign because doing so would be a violation of the federal contribution limits and reporting requirements,” said Kendra Arnold, executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, the group that filed the complaint. 

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) should investigate whether a Democratic Florida congressional candidate illegally transferred assets from her prior gubernatorial campaign, a watchdog alleged in a complaint obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Annette Taddeo is a Florida state senator who withdrew from the gubernatorial primary in June to instead run to unseat Florida Republican Rep. Maria Salazar. But Taddeo released a congressional campaign ad that seemingly ripped footage from her prior gubernatorial campaign ad, raising legal questions, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) detailed in a Friday FEC complaint.

Taddeo’s 2021 gubernatorial campaign ad is two minutes and 21 seconds and depicts the candidate speaking about her family and upbringing, among other things. Her 2022 congressional ad, which is two minutes and nine seconds, includes “identical footage for the first one minute and twenty seconds,” FACT said in its complaint. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Democrat Candidate Broke Law Not Disclosing ‘Senior’ Role In Venture Fund, Watchdog Alleges)

“The law is quite clear—federal candidates cannot use funds or assets from a state campaign because doing so would be a violation of the federal contribution limits and reporting requirements,” Kendra Arnold, executive director of FACT, told the DCNF. “In this case, the video footage, and in turn nearly the whole advertisement, was obviously from a prior state campaign and is an asset of that campaign.”

It is illegal for a federal campaign to use the assets from a state campaign — including “any gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.” It is also illegal for federal candidates to solicit, receive, direct, transfer or spend “non-federal” campaign funds from their own race for a federal election, according to federal law.

Screenshot/FEC Complaint/Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust/July 29

Taddeo’s congressional campaign could have legally paid her gubernatorial campaign for an ad asset, said Arnold. However, Taddeo’s congressional campaign did not disclose any payments to her gubernatorial campaign on an FEC report filed on July 15.

“Despite the fact that her Congressional campaign utilized video footage from her state gubernatorial campaign, Taddeo for Congress’ public reports show it did not make any disbursements to her nonfederal gubernatorial campaign committee for the cost of the video footage,” FACT said in its complaint.

Screenshot/FEC Complaint/Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust/July 29, 2022

“Any video taken for Taddeo’s state campaign is an asset of that campaign,” FACT also said. “Filming video footage requires camera crews, equipment, participants, coordination, and planning, all of which require expenditures of campaign funds.”

A spokesman for the FEC told the DCNF that “generally speaking” any candidate’s authorized campaign committee for federal office “may not accept funds or assets transferred from a committee established by the same candidate for a nonfederal election campaign.”

Florida’s 27th Congressional District, where Taddeo also ran in 2016, will have its primary on Aug. 23. The district will “likely” stay Republican in the 2022 midterms, according to Politico.

Taddeo’s congressional campaign did not respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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