Republican Congressman-elect Ross Spano is getting hammered from both sides of the aisle following his admission over the weekend that he may have used illegal campaign contributions to help win his Congressional seat.
Spano, an attorney who won the Central Florida U.S. House seat last month, revealed in a Federal Elections Commission (FEC) filing that he borrowed $180,000 between June and October from two individuals.
He then gave himself a loan of $167,000 at around the same time period, according to a letter sent to the FEC.
During the campaign, Spano had said that the sudden burst of campaign cash came from his own personal funds. In a statement released on Saturday, he said he believed he was acting in compliance with the law.
But critics are questioning what happened.
“Ross Spano knew exactly what he was doing when he took personal loans and used them as campaign funds, which is against the law,” Florida Democratic Party chair Terrie Rizzo in a statement. “This should disqualify Spano from serving in Congress. This matter needs to be fully investigated, and appropriate actions taken.”
A former state representative from eastern Hillsborough County, Spano’s original ambition this year was to become Florida’s next Attorney General.
But when that effort failed to gain traction, he dropped out of that race and decided to run for the open seat in Florida’s 15th Congressional District centered in Polk County, where he defeated former state Rep. Neil Combee in the Republican primary.
If found in violation of campaign finance law, Spano faces fines and possible jail time. However, the Federal Election Commission does have a policy to reduce the financial penalties for violating campaign contribution limits when a candidate self-reports the matter.
(This original story quoted a tweet that was inappropriate and was subsequently removed).