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February 12, 2015

Campaign Manager Pleads Guilty to Coordinated Campaign Contributions and False Statements

WASHINGTON—A campaign finance manager and political consultant pleaded guilty today in the Eastern District of Virginia for coordinating $325,000 in federal election campaign contributions by a political action committee (PAC) to a Congressional campaign committee. This is the first criminal prosecution in the United States based upon the coordination of campaign contributions between political committees.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Dana J. Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew G. McCabe of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

“The Department of Justice is fully committed to addressing the threat posed to the integrity of federal primary and general elections by coordinated campaign contributions, and will aggressively pursue coordination offenses at every appropriate opportunity,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell.

“Campaign finance laws exist to guard against illegal activity such as coordinated campaign contributions,” U.S. Attorney Boente said. “The citizens of the Commonwealth of Virginia can rely this office enforce federal campaign finance law.”

“Today, Mr. Harber took responsibility for violating federal election campaign laws by illegally coordinating payments between a super pac and a candidate’s campaign committee,” said Assistant Director in Charge McCabe. “The FBI will continue to investigate allegations of campaign finance abuse which are in place to ensure openness and fairness in our elections so the people’s interests are protected.”

Tyler Eugene Harber, 34, of Alexandria, Virginia, pleaded guilty to one count of coordinated federal election contributions and one count of making false statements to the FBI before U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady of the Eastern District of Virginia. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 5, 2015.

According to the plea documents, Harber was the Campaign Manager and General Political Consultant for a candidate for Congress in the November 2012 general election. At the same time, Harber participated in the creation and operation of a PAC, which was legally allowed to raise and spend money in unlimited amounts from otherwise prohibited sources to influence federal elections so long as it did not coordinate expenditures with a federal campaign.

Harber admitted, among other things, that he made and directed coordinated expenditures by the PAC to influence the election with $325,000 of political advertising opposing a rival candidate. The coordination of expenditures made them illegal campaign contributions to the authorized committee of Harber’s candidate, and Harber admitted that he knew this coordination of expenditures was an unlawful means of contributing money to a campaign committee. He further admitted that he used an alias and other means to conceal his action from inquiries by an official of the same political party as Harber’s candidate.

Harber further admitted that he told multiple lies when interviewed by the FBI concerning his activities.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Northern Virginia Resident Agency. The case is being prosecuted by Richard C. Pilger, Director of the Election Crimes Branch of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, and Chief Mark D. Lytle of the Financial Crimes and Public Corruption Unit of the Eastern District of Virginia.

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