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Rare FEC fine for federal contractor who gave in congressional race

Campaign finance regulators have imposed a rare fine on a government contractor for illegally donating to a federal candidate.

The decision marked a moment of unusual unanimity at the Federal Election Commission, where a 2-2 partisan split and a pair of vacancies usually results in deadlock. But this time, the agency agreed to fine Ring Power Corp., which sells and leases industrial machinery and construction equipment, $9,500 for its donations to help Florida's Republican governor, Rick Scott, when he ran successfully for the Senate last year.

It has been against the law for 75 years for companies with federal contracts to give to congressional or presidential candidates. Ring Power, based in St. Augustine, Fla., has been a contractor for a dozen years, according to a settlement agreement between the company and the FEC that was finalized last week.

The New Republican PAC, a super PAC backing Scott, returned the contractor's $50,000 gift last summer after theCampaign Legal Center, a watchdog group, filed a complaint.

"We were concerned that the FEC might allow the violation to slide because the contribution was refunded, but that didn't happen," CLC's Brendan Fischer told Roll Call. "We are certainly pleased that the FEC is continuing to enforce the ban on government contractors making political contributions, which is designed to prevent pay-to-play in the contracting process."

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