Vulnerable GOP senator hit with $23,000 fine for violating election law


The fine levied against Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) is another bad story for her struggling campaign.

The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) hit Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) with a $23,000 fine for campaign finance violations stemming from her 2014 House campaign, the Associated Press reported Friday.

An investigation into McSally's campaign turned up $319,000 in excessive contributions from 117 people. During the 2014 cycle, the maximum donation a person could give was just $2,600.

In addition to the excessive contributions, the McSally campaign also failed to properly disclose $33,000 from political action committees.

"After over seven years of political campaigning McSally and her team should be able to follow the rules, so it's only natural to conclude they don't want to — or that they believe they're above adhering to federal elections law," Amelia Penniman, a spokesperson for progressive research firm American Bridge, said in a statement.

The news of the campaign finance violation comes at a time when McSally, who is facing a tough reelection race in 2020, appears to be struggling.

Last week, news broke of McSally's lackluster fundraising quarter, during which her likely opponent, former astronaut Mark Kelly, raised almost $1 million more than her. Kelly not only raised more cash than McSally in the past three months but has more cash ready to spend on the campaign. McSally has only $4.4 million in the bank, while Kelly has $6 million.

The 2020 race is McSally's second Senate race in as many cycles, due to the fact that she lost her 2018 race to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema. Despite voters rejecting her at the ballot box, McSally was subsequently appointed to finish out the term of the late Sen. John McCain.

Her brief tenure in the Senate has been marked by controversial votes and misleading statements.

McSally has been a reliable rubber stamp for every Trump-nominated judge to come before the Senate, even if those judges have long and questionable records on key topics like health care.

The issue of health care in and of itself is troubling for McSally, who was one of the leading proponents in the House of Representatives looking to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Before one of the key votes, which would have taken away life-saving health care protections for people with preexisting conditions, McSally rallied her colleagues by shouting, "Let's get this f***ing thing done!"

As a border state, the issue of border security is an important one, but Arizonians can't count on McSally telling them the truth. During a May television interview, McSally spread misinformation about asylum-seekers coming to the United States, falsely claiming a higher rate of unverified asylum claims than really happens.

The finding by the FEC that McSally hasn't followed campaign finance laws is only the latest negative media cycle for a campaign that continues to be mired in controversy.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.