| WASHINGTON, Sept 13
WASHINGTON, Sept 13 The national energy adviser
for Mitt Romney's presidential campaign, Oklahoma oil
billionaire Harold Hamm, made political contributions that
exceed Federal legal limits by as much as 41 percent, according
to data compiled by Reuters.
The data, based on public filings, showed that Hamm's
political donations exceeded the legal limits for individual
donations to political parties, campaigns and po litical action
committees (P ACs) over the 2011-2012 election period.
Hamm, the CEO of oil and gas company Continental Resources
, has given $164,700 to parties, PACs and candidates,
including Romney, in the current two-year election cycle, in
addition to an almost $1 million donation in April to the main
Super PAC supporting Romney.
The $985,000 Hamm gave to Super PAC Restore Our Future is
legal, because there is no limit on such giving. But his other
federal contributions put him well over the legal limit of
$117,000 in an election period for an individual donor. Hamm has
also exceeded lesser limits both for individual contributions to
candidates and to regular political action committees and
parties by more than $20,000 each.
Reuters reporters alerted Hamm on Tuesday to the breach of
limits and presented him data on Wednesday. The Wall Street
Journal reported the donation violations earlier Thursday on its
Hamm's political adviser, Mike Cantrell, said in an email on
Thursday afternoon that Hamm had intended to break up the
donations between himself and his wife, Sue Ann Hamm, which he
said would have ensured that Hamm remained under legal
contribution limits. The donations were made from a joint
account, Cantrell said, but Hamm failed to make clear that they
were donations split between Hamm and his wife.
"Apparently some committees and/or campaigns to which Harold
and Sue Ann Hamm made contributions reported those as having
been contributed solely by Harold Hamm. That was a mistake.
Others appear to have been misallocated," Cantrell told Reuters.
Cantrell said Hamm had believed that the contributions would
be attributed 50 percent to Harold Hamm and 50 percent to Sue
Ann Hamm, because under Oklahoma state campaign finance law, the
maximum contribution limits are calculated on a per-family
basis. Under federal law, contributions made from a joint bank
account are split only if both parties sign the check.
Hamm "believed he was in compliance with all federal and
state election laws. After notification from Reuters, Mr. Hamm
had his contributions reviewed again," Cantrell said. "Since
this was brought to our attention, the recipient committees are
being notified and requested to take appropriate steps to
correct any errors."
In an interview last week, conducted before the finance
violation was clear, Hamm told Reuters he saw no conflicts of
interest arising from his financial support and fundraising for
Romney or other candidates.
Hamm helped Romney to devise his national energy policy
platform for a white paper the campaign released last month. It
focuses heavily on opening up more U.S. territory for oil
drilling, which could benefit Hamm's company, a top lease-holder
in the prolific Bakken oil field of North Dakota.
"Everybody in America supports the candidates that are
aligned with their beliefs and their philosophy. This goes back
to First Amendment rights," Hamm told Reuters. "We can support
the candidate of our choice."
Hamm might face penalties for the donation breaches, up to
the excess amount he has contributed.
"The (Federal Election Commission) itself cannot impose a
fine," said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel for the Campaign Legal
Center, a Washington D.C. campaign finance organization. He
noted that while the Department of Justice retains the authority
to prosecute deliberate contribution violations, he hasn't seen
them pursue such cases.
The FEC said it couldn't comment on any matters involving
donations by individuals.
Aside from his Super PAC contribution earlier this year,
Hamm and his wife, Sue Ann, have in total given $430,150 to
candidates, PACs and political parties since 1999, with more
than half of their overall total coming during this election
cycle, according to data compiled from public filings.
Overall, the Hamms gave $367,050 to Republicans, more than
six times as much as they gave to Democrats, including
contributions to the presidential campaigns of Rudy Giuliani,
John McCain and George W. Bush. During this election, less than
four percent of the $235,550 they gave went to Democrats.