Commission Says Georgia Congressman Didn't Violate Laws

SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — The Federal Election Commission rejected a complaint filed by Democrats that accused a Republican Georgia congressman of violating campaign finance laws.

The commission sent a letter Wednesday to Rep. Buddy Carter stating he acted legally last year when he spent money to explore a possible U.S. Senate race without formally declaring himself a candidate.

The Georgia Democratic Party filed a complaint with the FEC last August after Carter spent $75,000 on a statewide TV ad that criticized Major League Baseball for moving its All-Star Game out of metro Atlanta. The MLB decided to leave Georgia after state lawmakers passed restrictive new voting laws.

The Democrats' complaint said Carter used the advertisement to promote himself as a Senate candidate, noting that most of the money went to airing it outside the congressman's southeast Georgia House district. The complaint said Carter violated the law because he never filed paperwork declaring his candidacy for the Senate.

The FEC noted that Carter made it clear last year that he was considering a 2022 challenge to Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock. But the commission concluded the congressman never took steps that would have required him to formally declare himself a candidate.

“The advertisement by Carter references Democrats and President Trump and ran in areas outside of Carter’s congressional district,” the commission wrote in its decision, “but the advertisement does not reference Carter as a candidate for the Senate or otherwise indicate that he has made a decision to run for the Senate.”

Carter had also stated publicly that he would stay out of the Senate race if football star Herschel Walker decided to run. After Walker launched his campaign last year, Carter opted to seek reelection to his 1st District House seat.