The controversial “Campus Red PAC” is facing fines from the Federal government for failing to submit a financial report. According to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), all politicial committees were required to file a post-election financial report on December 8, 2016. On December 28th, the FEC sent a letter to the Broward home of Lauren Cooley, the 24 year-old musician behind “Campus Red PAC.”
The FEC letter stated, “The failure to timely file a complete report may result in civil money penalties, an audit or legal enforcement action. The civil money penalty calculation for late report does not include a grace period and begins on day the day following the due date for the report.”
On social media, Lauren Cooley has touted “Campus Red PAC” as a main reason Donald Trump won the State of Florida. In her failed campaign for Broward Republican Party vice-chair, Cooley claimed her committee registered thousands of college students to vote in the November election. In a November email to members of the Broward Republican Executive Committee (BREC), Cooley wrote, “In less than 6 months, I fundraised…and executed a cutting edge field program, resulting in the registration of roughly 11,000 conservative students, all in the state of Florida.” Cooley made the same claim to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
Last month, REDBROWARD exposed how records of third party voter registration groups filed with the State of Florida Division of Elections showed Lauren Cooley’s Campus Red PAC did not come close to registering 11,000 students. According to the State of Florida, Lauren Cooley’s Campus Red Super PAC registered forty-nine people to vote.
The State shows Campus Red received 1,725 applications. Out of the 1,725 applications, Campus Red PAC returned 49 “non-blank” applications. By comparison, Turning Point USA, another conservative college student group, returned 1,841 applications.
Where Did The Money Go?
The post-general election report should contain the donations made to Campus Red PAC in the final days leading up to the general election. More importantly, the report should document the spending by the committee. On many occasions, Lauren Cooley stated her group hired more than a dozen staffers to help registered Florida college students.
In November, REDBROWARD revealed records filed with the Federal Elections Commission showed Cooley and her Campus Red PAC co-founder pocketed most of the money raised by her committee. As of September 30, 2016, Cooley and treasurer Cade Marsh received nearly 80% of Campus Red PAC expenses.
Cooley received “retainer” payments of $2,000 each in August and September. Marsh, head of a Florida college Republican group, received the same retainer payments.
In September, Cooley and Marsh received large “reimbursement” payments. There were no other details or itemization for these payments.
Marsh received a $5,971.29 reimbursement while Lauren Cooley received a $4,331.47 reimbursement payment.
As of September 30, 2016 Cooley was paid $8,33.47 by her Campus Red PAC. Records covering October and November have not been filed. As of publication, it is unclear whether Cooley and Marsh received further retainer or reimbursement payments.
Cooley and Marsh received $18,302.76 out the $23,062 operating expenses through September.
Campus Red PAC records show other paid staff received far less than Cooley.
As of September, three college staffers received $250 each as “independent” contractors. The Nova Southeastern University College Republicans received a $150 payment, while the UCF College Republicans got a $100 payment.
In a BREC vice-Chair campaign email, Cooley wrote, “I would like to bring this experience of fundraising and running a full-scale, state-wide campaign to BREC.”
The Broward GOP dodged a bullet when it elected Celeste Ellich over Lauren Cooley earlier this month. If Cooley is so experienced in running a “full-scale, state-wide campaign,” how did her political committee miss an important filing deadline. At the very least, Campus Red PAC will end up owing money to the Federal government.
Maybe Lauren Cooley and Cade Marsh should have spent less time on Twitter making ridiculous, unproven claims that Campus Red PAC helped Donald Trump win the White House. Maybe they should have spent less time on social media picking fights with other young conservative groups or making inaugural plans.
Or maybe they don’t think the rules apply to them?