The Ohio Republican Party filed a complaint Monday with the Federal Election Commission, reporting an alleged violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act, also called FECA, by Sen. Sherrod Brown’s campaign committee.
In a recently launched television ad, Brown (D-OH) appears with Whirlpool Corp. employees, who are wearing the Whirlpool logo, standing in front of a Whirlpool sign, and talking about Whirlpool’s business.
Watch the ad, “Disheveled:”
While standing in front of the corporate sign, an employee says on camera: “We make washing machines, and Sherrod Brown looks great to us.”
“Brown himself closes out the advertisement standing in front of the corporate sign while various Whirlpool employees and agents walk behind him and compliment him,” the complaint states. “The advertisement also includes footage of a Whirlpool Corporation factory in operation.”
The complaint further states: “Friends of Sherrod Brown’s use of these corporate resources constitutes an impermissible in-kind contribution from a prohibited source; a serious violation of FECA and Commission regulations.”
A late disclaimer in the ad “does nothing” to correct its “repeated use of a valuable corporate trademark, including the mark’s visibility on the employee’s shirts and on the sign featured multiple times throughout the ad,” the complaint states. It goes on to cite a 2007 advisory opinion in which the FEC concluded that the names, trademarks, and service marks of corporations are considered to be valuable corporate resources.
Rob Secaur, executive director of the Ohio Republican Party, issued the following statement Monday:
In addition to violating FECA, Sherrod Brown’s campaign has grossly mischaracterized his record and attempted to take credit for President Trump’s trade policies. If it were up to Sherrod Brown, Hillary Clinton would be President, federal agencies would not be rolling back excessive regulations, and Ohio workers would not be saving nearly $2,000 this year thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.”
Leslie Shedd, senior communications advisor for Congressman Jim Renacci (R-OH-14), who is running against Brown for Senate, also weighed in with a statement:
By running this ad, Sherrod Brown has knowingly accepted an illegal corporate campaign contribution plain and simple. After 25 years in Washington, it’s no surprise liberal career politician Sherrod Brown thinks the rules don’t apply to him. Now that he’s been caught with his hand in the cookie jar, Sherrod Brown needs to apologize to voters for violating their trust.”
Brown is a self-proclaimed supporter of campaign finance reform. Yet, he apparently can’t help testing the limits of current campaign-finance laws.
Brown, as previously reported by The Ohio Star, has taken more money from lobbyists in the 2018 election cycle than any other senator in Washington.
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Anthony Accardi is a writer and reporter for The Ohio Star.