Last May, as the clocked ticked down to Election Day, Domingo Garcia made a last-minute, $250,000 loan to his congressional campaign in hopes of clawing his way to the top of the crowded Democratic primary.
It didn't work. Garcia finished second in the May 29 primary, then lost to now-U.S. Representative Marc Veasey two months later in a runoff. Nor was $250,000 particularly eye-popping in the context of a campaign that Garcia ultimately poured $2 million of his own money into.
The problem for Garcia was that his campaign neglected to tell the Federal Election Commission about the loan, as required by law. Only after the FEC requested additional information a month after the runoff did Swati Patel, treasurer for Garcia's campaign committee, add the quarter-million-dollar loan in campaign filings.
The oversight -- and that's what Garcia insists that it was -- has become a costly one. Earlier this year, the FEC fined Garcia's campaign $15,220 for failing to make timely reports. Garcia appealed, only to have the commission decide that, yep, the campaign would have to pay the fine.
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And so, Garcia is doing what he does best: He's suing.
He filed a federal lawsuit on Monday, calling the fine "grossly disproportionate" and alleging that the FEC had ignored his campaign's "good-faith efforts" to file the reports on time and comply with federal election law. The campaign was "prevented from doing so by reasonable unforeseen circumstances that were beyond their control."
Not only that, Garcia says in court filings, the FEC is kind of a joke. "Legal commentators have noted that the vast majority of [the FEC]'s sanctions punish rather trivial violations of FECA technicalities and that the penalties imposed...often vary greatly and fail to differentiate between the seriousness of the violations involved."
In other words, it's on. Garcia wants a federal judge to throw out the FEC's decision. That way, he'll be able to use the $15,000 he'll save on his predicted rematch with Veasey come 2014.