Alexandria Man Sentenced to 24 Months in Prison for Coordinated Campaign Contributions and False Statements
First Criminal Sentence in the United States For
Campaign Finance Coordination between Political Committees
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Tyler Eugene Harber, 34, of Alexandria, a former campaign finance manager and political consultant, was sentenced today to 24 months in prison, followed by two years of supervised release for coordinating $325,000 in federal election campaign contributions by a political action committee (PAC) to a Congressional campaign committee.
This is the first criminal prosecution in the United States based upon the coordination of campaign contributions between political committees. As a condition of Harber’s supervised release, he is prohibited from participating in a political campaign for the duration of his supervised release.
“Campaign finance laws exist to guard against illegal activity such as coordinated campaign contributions,” said Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. “The citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia can rely on this office enforce federal campaign finance law.”
“The significant prison sentence imposed on Tyler Harber should cause other political operatives to think twice about circumventing laws that promote transparency in federal elections,” said Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “As the first conviction for illegal campaign coordination, this case stands as an important step forward in the criminal enforcement of federal campaign finance laws. Illegal campaign coordination can be difficult to detect, which is why we strongly encourage party or campaign insiders to come forward and blow the whistle.”
“As the 2016 election gears up, there may be others, similar to Mr. Harber, who may view campaigns as a venue to misappropriate funds,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Leonard of the FBI’s Washington D.C. Field Office’s Criminal Division. “With millions of dollars in play, donors should be aware of how their money will be spent prior to making a donation to a SuperPac to ensure that their contributions are being legally expended.”
Harber pleaded guilty on Feb. 12, 2015 to one count of coordinated federal election contributions and one count of making false statements to the FBI.
According to plea documents, Harber was the Campaign Manager and General Political Consultant for a candidate for Congress in the November 2012 general election. At the same time, Harber participated in the creation and operation of a PAC, which was legally allowed to raise and spend money in unlimited amounts from otherwise prohibited sources to influence federal elections so long as it did not coordinate expenditures with a federal campaign.
Harber admitted, among other things, that he made and directed coordinated expenditures by the PAC to influence the election with $325,000 of political advertising opposing a rival candidate. The coordination of expenditures made them illegal campaign contributions to the authorized committee of Harber’s candidate, and Harber admitted that he knew this coordination of expenditures was an unlawful means of contributing money to a campaign committee. He further admitted that he used an alias and other means to conceal his action from inquiries by an official of the same political party as Harber’s candidate.
Harber further admitted that he told multiple lies when interviewed by the FBI concerning his activities.
Dana J. Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Leslie R. Caldwell, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and Acting Special Agent in Charge Jennifer Leonard of the FBI’s Washington D.C. Field Office’s Criminal Division made the announcement after the sentence was delivered by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Northern Virginia Resident Agency. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark D. Lytle of the Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit of the Eastern District of Virginia, and Richard C. Pilger, Director of the Election Crimes Branch of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:14-cr-373.