By: Patrick Wilson
A Democratic political action committee on Wednesday sent a letter to the Office of Congressional Ethics alleging that Rep. Dave Brat, R-7th, violated campaign finance laws by not disclosing income from sales of his book.
The PAC End Citizens United said Brat’s campaign website devotes more space than is allowed under law to promote his book.
“Assuming Representative Brat receives royalties from the sale of his book, he appears to be improperly using his campaign funds for his personal benefit, in violation of (Federal Election Campaign Act) and House ethics rules,” the organization said in a news release. The PAC also said Brat did not disclose any income from book sales in required federal financial disclosures. The letter asks for a review by the ethics office.
Brat campaign manager Katey Price issued a statement that said: “Congressman Brat made no royalties from his book and is in compliance with financial disclosure requirements.”
The office is a fact-finding office that does not determine if violations occurred, according to its website. It reviews allegations against members, officers and staff of the House, and may refer matters to the House Committee on Ethics.
The PAC has endorsed Brat’s Democratic opponent, Abigail Spanberger, in the midterm elections Nov. 6 and its president, Tiffany Muller, recently appeared at a campaign event with her. The PAC has purchased $438,130 in TV advertising for upcoming anti-Brat or pro-Spanberger ads, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
Brat published his book, “American Underdog,” in 2016. Topics of his book include philosophy, his political beliefs and how he upset GOP House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a primary in 2014.
The biography of Brat on his campaign website included a link to a page about the book, which in turn has links to three sites, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound.org, where the book can be purchased. That page was removed from the campaign website on Wednesday.
End Citizens United’s complaint says Brat would be allowed to include material about the book on his website, but alleges he has “devoted well more than the approved one-to-two sentences” he is allowed to use in promoting it.
The complaint also says owners of intellectual property such as literary works need to disclose their ownership interests in the financial disclosure forms federal candidates are required to file.
Brat “did not disclose any income from sales of his book; he did not report the value of his intellectual property in the book; and he did not disclose an agreement with his publishing company,” the complaint said.