Congress

Katko challenger Dana Balter accepted campaign salary too early, FEC says

Democrat pledges to repay the $6,720 she improperly withdrew

Rep. John Katko, R-N.Y., walks up the House steps for votes in the Capitol in 2017. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

A two-time Democratic challenger to New York Rep. John Katko has been dinged for a campaign finance error early on in her campaign.

Dana Balter improperly accepted a salary paid out by her campaign before campaign finance rules permit that sort of arrangement, federal regulators wrote in a letter. 

The Federal Election Commission allows candidates to draw a salary from their principal campaign committee. But the agency limits the timetable. Candidates can only take a salary after the filing deadline for primary candidates to be on the ballot, in this case, April 2nd, 2020.

Balter has pledged to reimburse the $6,720 she withdrew, according to her campaign.

The FEC sent a letter notifying the campaign of the violation on August 6th, specifying that a failure to respond could lead to an audit or enforcement action. The campaign must respond by September 10th.

The letter was first reported by The Auburn Citizen. 

“If the disbursements do constitute the personal use of campaign funds, the commission may take further legal action,” an FEC regulator wrote. “However, prompt action to obtain reimbursement of the funds in question will be taken into consideration.”

Balter has raised $190,919 since her April announcement that she would try again to knock off Katko in the Syracuse-based 24th District. 

Balter, founder of a civic engagement nonprofit and former visiting professor, fell short of Katko, a third term congressman and former criminal prosecutor, by just 5 points in 2018. That election that saw the nearby 19th and 22nd Districts flip from Republican to Democratic control. 

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