- The Federal Election Commission has fined Hamilton Company $56,000.
- Because the company is contracted with the federal government, it’s prohibited from donating to political action committees.
- The lab equipment manufacturer donated $300,000 to a pro-Republican super PAC in 2020.
Federal regulators have fined a government contractor was $56,000 for illegally donating to a pro-Republican super PAC in 2020.
Hamilton Company, which manufactures lab equipment, donated $300,000 to Americans for Prosperity Action political action committee around the time of the 2020 election, according to newly released documents from the Federal Election Commission.
Per the Federal Election Campaign Act, companies contracted with the federal government are barred from making political contributions. At the time of its donation, Hamilton was in the midst of several federal contracts, according to the FEC.
The Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit government advocacy group, filed a complaint over the donation in March 2021.
Hamilton, which contracted with the US Department of Defense and US Department of Health and Human Services in recent years, argued that it did not fall under the definition of a “federal contractor.” It argued that its sales to the government never went through a formal government contract proposal process, but instead were made via purchase order agreements, according to a report by the FEC’s general counsel.
The FEC disagreed, writing that “Hamilton’s transactions by purchase order fall within the definition of a contract under the prohibition, which includes any contract between any person and a federal government agency for the furnishing of personal property or personal services.”
According to the FEC, Americans for Prosperity Action refunded the $300,000 donation in April 2021 after Hamilton received the federal complaint.
While the six-member FEC unanimously approved fining Hamilton Company, it unanimously dismissed allegations that Americans for Prosperity Action knowingly solicited contributions from a federal contractor.
Hamilton Company told the FEC that it accepted a federal fine out of a “desire to avoid further legal costs,” according to a fine agreement signed by Hamilton Company’s lawyer, Charlie Spies.
Representatives for Hamilton Company and Americans for Prosperity Action could not immediately be reached for comment.
The bipartisan FEC often deadlocks along ideological lines on high-profile matters. Nevertheless, commissioners have agreed to penalize several other government contractors in recent years for making illegal political contributions.
In March, for example, it fined Marathon Petroleum Corporation $85,000 for illegally donating to two Republican PACs.
In 2020, it fined Alpha Marine Services Inc. — a US Navy contractor — for illegally donating $100,000 to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Republican super PAC.
And in 2017, the FEC fined Suffolk Construction Co. $34,000 for making illegal contributions to pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC Correct the Record.