Report: Owens campaign accepted $135,500 in illegal donations

Burgess Owens Debate.jpg
Posted at 11:24 AM, Oct 27, 2020

SALT LAKE CITY — With a week to go until Election Day, a report Tuesday by the New York Times says Utah congressional candidate Burgess Owens accepted $135,500 in illegal campaign contributions.

The report claims the donations to the Owens campaign were over the legal limit. By law, individuals are only allowed to donate up to $2,800 to candidates running for federal office.

Owens is running against incumbent Democratic congressman Ben McAdams for the seat in the state's 4th congressional district.

According to the report, a review of Owens' financial disclosures showed $135,500 in donations were illegal because of excessive contributions. The Times says the amount is 40 percent of the cash the campaign has on hand leading up to Election Day.

If donations are made over the limit, the campaign must refund the contributions or reattribute them. The report states the Federal Election Commission notified Owens campaign officials in August about one illegal donation which was eventually refunded.

“With over 50,000 donors and with many campaign donations made electronically, excess contributions can occur without the campaign’s knowledge." Owens campaign spokesman Jesse Ranney told FOX 13. "That is why the FEC has processes in place to handle this situation.”

"The majority of the excess contributions have been attributed accordingly. The rest of the money has been returned. This isn't unusual and is common practice."

Similar contributions plagued the campaign of former Rep. Mia Love in 2016 when she was running for a third term against McAdams. The FEC accused Love's campaign of accepting more than a million dollars in illegal donations.

“From six bankruptcies and unpaid taxes to misusing charitable funds and now campaign finance violations, Burgess Owens has displayed a pattern of financial mismanagement." said Andrew Roberts, McAdams' campaign manager. "It’s clear he has taken illegal donations that he cannot spend. He should come clean and refund all the money he is holding illegally.”

The McAdams campaign was not the only group speaking out about the allegations facing Owens and his campaign.

“Once again, Burgess Owens has shown why he is unfit to represent Utahns living in the fourth Congressional district. He still hasn’t adequately answered questions of alleged plagiarism or his relationship to Q-Anon." Chase Thomas, executive director for Alliance for a Better Utah said in a statement. "Now, we find out Owens has followed the example of his GOP predecessor, refusing to play by the rules and holding on to a substantial amount of illegal campaign contributions with only a week until the election."