Martha McSally took money from a donor who pleaded guilty to fraud

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The Federal Election Commission says the donations to the Arizona Republican exceed the legally allowed limit.

The Federal Election Commission on Wednesday informed the campaign of Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) that she appears to have taken excessive campaign contributions from 61 donors — including Bill Deaton, a Kentucky businessman who pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges in 2010.

Deaton's guilty plea came in response to charges that he fraudulently inflated his earnings. Deaton was fined $1 million and sentenced to two years' probation, including one year of home detention, and 300 hours of community service.

FEC rules state that individuals are only allowed to donate $2,800 to a single candidate per election cycle. However, filings submitted to the commission by the McSally campaign show that Deaton donated $6,571 to McSally's 2020 campaign, an excessive contribution amount that was flagged.

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This is not the first time McSally has accepted excessive campaign contributions.

In 2019, her campaign committee, McSally for Congress, settled an FEC complaint stemming from her first House bid in 2014, paying $23,400 in fines for accepting more than $300,000 in excessive contributions.

McSally is facing an uphill battle in a special election to serve out the remainder of the Senate term of the late John McCain. McSally was appointed to fill McCain's vacant seat after Jon Kyl, the former senator who had initially been appointed to fill it in September 2018 by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, resigned three months later.

She had lost an actual election to replace the retiring GOP Sen. Jeff Flake earlier in the year.

Now, polls show she is far behind her Democratic opponent in the special election, astronaut and engineer Mark Kelly. According to RealClearPolitics' pollings average, McSally trails Kelly by 7.2%. That's more than double the 2.4% by which she lost to Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in the 2018 Senate election.

And political handicapping organizations are predicting McSally will lose. Inside Elections and the Cook Political Report, both nonpartisan outlets, rate the race "tilts Democratic" and "leans Democratic" respectively.

McSally's campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.