Federal election officials threaten Ogles with campaign finance audit or enforcement – again – Tennessee Lookout

The Federal Election Commission sent a new batch of warnings to U.S. Rep. Andy Ogles that it could audit his campaign finance account or take “enforcement action” for a spate of violations, including excessive contributions from the House Freedom Caucus’ political action committee and possibly illegal corporate donations. 

The agency notified Ogles’ treasurer, Thomas Datwyler, this summer that a detailed summary page of the congressman’s amended April and July quarterly reports appears to be incorrect and violate federal campaign finance regulations.

The contributions and expenses on Ogles’ April report, which covers Jan. 1, 2023 to March 31, 2023, fail to match previous reports. The letter regarding Ogles’ July report notes the first-term congressman said he received $14,021 from the House Freedom Fund, which is nearly triple the contribution limit of $5,000 allowed per election. He also received a potentially illegal contribution of $2,259.24 from Synapse Financial Technology, a startup banking company based in San Fransico. Corporations aren’t allowed to make direct donations to federal candidates.

The letters also note that Ogles’ report includes outdated information on $320,000 last year he personally loaned his campaign. The reports show the loan was due as of Dec. 31, 2022, but no payment has been made on it. 

“Please note that an overdue loan from the candidate’s personal funds may be considered a contribution from the candidate if new terms are not disclosed,” the letter states.

Ogles, a Maury County Republican, played fast and loose with numbers early in his bid. He announced in early 2022 he had raised $453,000 in the first 30 days of his campaign, but a late report he filed showed he brought in only $264,400.

A spokesperson for Ogles did not respond to questions from the Tennessee Lookout.

The FEC, which sent a similar letter to Ogles in late 2022, requests that he file a corrected report, ensure all subsequent reports match and that he return any excessive or illegal contributions. 

Ogles is required to respond by Oct. 5, which could affect whether his account is audited or whether his election committee faces a penalty.

For the first half of 2023, Ogles brought in $108,323 and spent $152,542. He had $429,158 in cash on hand at the beginning of the year and $387,247 at the close of the second quarter, including the $320,000 loan his committee owes.

Ogles, a Maury County Republican, played fast and loose with numbers early in his bid. He announced in early 2022 he had raised $453,000 in the first 30 days of his campaign, but a late report he filed showed he brought in only $264,400, though he claimed $584,000 in total receipts, bolstered by the personal loan.  

A Dec. 6 letter to Datwyler also listed several problems within the campaign’s report, including incorrect totals and information that deflated cash on hand, failure to disclose the identity of anyone who contributed more than $200 in a cycle and failure to properly disclose the receipt of funds to Ogles for TN-005 from a committee called Take Back TN-05.

Ogles won the 5th Congressional District seat after the Republican-controlled Legislature split Davidson County into three districts, forcing longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper to step away from Congress. Ogles then defeated Republicans Beth Harwell, the former House speaker, and former National Guard Brig. Gen. Kurt Winstead in the primary and Democratic state Sen. Heidi Campbell in the general election.

FEC letter to Ogles regarding excess contributions

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FEC letter to Ogles regarding financial discrepancies

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