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FEC v. Committee to Elect Bennie Batts


On February 14, 1989, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted the FEC's motion for summary judgment in FEC v. Committee to Elect Bennie O. Batts (Civil Action No. 87-5789(GLG)). The committee was Mr. Batts' principal campaign committee for his unsuccessful 1984 primary campaign in New York's 20th Congressional District.

The court found that the committee and its acting treasurer, Evelyn Batts (the candidate's wife), violated the election law by:

  • Failing to amend its Statement of Organization to reflect Mrs. Batts' actual role as treasurer and as custodian of the committee's books and accounts and to disclose a campaign depository (2 U.S.C. §433(c));
  • Commingling committee funds with the personal funds of Mrs. Batts in Mrs. Batts' personal bank account (2 U.S.C. §432(b)(3));
  • Failing to use the official campaign depository for receiving contributions and making expenditures (2 U.S.C. §432(h)(l)); and
  • Knowingly accepting more than $10,000 in excessive contributions from Mrs. Batts' personal account (2 U.S.C. §441a(f)).

The court also found that Mrs. Batts personally violated the election law by making excessive contributions from her personal account.

Observing that the committee's violations had resulted from "at most...sloppy bookkeeping and unprofessional behavior," and that there was no implication that the defendants had been "motivated by personal gain," the court assessed civil penalties of $100 against the committee and its acting treasurer, Mrs. Batts. The court also assessed a $1 civil penalty against Mrs. Batts personally. In addition, the court permanently enjoined the defendants from similar future violations of the election law.

Source: FEC Record— May 1989