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EXCLUSIVE: Florida Dem Candidate Running For Congress Potentially Violated Federal Law, Experts Say

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Gabe Kaminsky Investigative Reporter
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A Democratic congressional nominee may have violated federal law by not disclosing his board member role for a nonprofit, legal experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

Eric Lynn is running for a House seat in Florida’s 13th Congressional District and is also a board member for the Early Learning Coalition of Pinellas County, an education group partnering with preschools to deliver learning programs. But since federal candidates must report such positions on their financial disclosure, Lynn may have skirted federal law and House ethics rules, according to legal experts. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Democrat Candidate Broke Law Not Disclosing ‘Senior’ Role In Venture Fund, Watchdog Alleges)

“Along with financial information, a candidate or Member must disclose any positions held outside of Congress because these can lead to a conflict of interest, namely that the Member has a motivation other than the interest of the public as a whole,” Kendra Arnold, executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, an ethics watchdog, told the DCNF.

“This law is extremely important because it is the only method to reveal whether a Member does have a conflict of interest and it is the public who monitors those,” said Arnold.

Despite this, Lynn did not report his role with the Early Learning Coalition on either his 2021 or 2022 disclosures, filings show. The senior adviser at the investment firm CNS Global Advisors is listed on the coalition’s website as a board member and Lynn lists the coalition role on his campaign website.

Candidates and members of Congress must report any positions held during the past two years up to the date they file their financial disclosure, according to the House Ethics Committee. The law applies even if the filer does not maintain the positions.

Lynn is still on the coalition’s board, the group’s CEO Lindsay Carson told the DCNF, and joined in December 2016. The coalition first disclosed Lynn as a board member on its fiscal year 2017 tax documents, records show.

Craig Holman, a government affairs lobbyist at the left-leaning think tank Public Citizen, told the DCNF Lynn’s “serious infringement” on the law is an issue because disclosure of his board member role could reveal potential conflicts of interest.

“Because of such conflicts, serving on boards has been the subject of considerable controversy and public discussion in Congress in recent years, and so the congressional ethics rule on reporting such roles is widely known,” said Holman. “Eric Lynn would have little excuse for this omission.”

Paul Kamenar, counsel to the conservative watchdog group National Legal and Policy Center, told the DCNF Lynn’s apparently “clear violation” of the law makes him wonder “what other disclosure violations he may have committed.”

Lynn disclosed assets of up to $2.2 million on his 2022 disclosure. He has raised over $1.4 million this election, whereas his Republican opponent Anna Paulina Luna, an Air Force veteran, has raised almost $2 million, federal records show.

The district Lynn is running in will be “likely Republican” in 2022, according to the Cook Political Report, a nonpartisan election tracker.

Lynn’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

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