Alexandria Man Pleads Guilty to Coordinated Campaign Contributions and False Statements
First Criminal Prosecution 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, pleaded guilty today to 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.
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 Andrew G. McCabe, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady.
“Campaign finance laws exist to guard against illegal activity such as coordinated campaign contributions,” U.S. Attorney Boente said. “The citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia can rely this office enforce federal campaign finance law.”
“The Department of Justice is fully committed to addressing the threat posed to the integrity of federal primary and general elections by coordinated campaign contributions, and will aggressively pursue coordination offenses at every appropriate opportunity,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.
“Today, Mr. Harber took responsibility for violating federal election campaign laws by illegally coordinating payments between a super pac and a candidate’s campaign committee,” said Assistant Director in Charge McCabe. “The FBI will continue to investigate allegations of campaign finance abuse which are in place to ensure openness and fairness in our elections so the people’s interests are protected.”
Harber pleaded guilty to one count of coordinated federal election contributions and one count of making false statements to the FBI. He faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on June 5, 2015. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
According to the 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.
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.