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Conservative group calls on FEC to investigate finances of Rep. Allen West challenger Frankel

A conservative front group is calling on the Federal Election Commission to look into Emily’s List-endorsed Lois Frankel’s campaign finances. Frankel is challenging Rep. Allen West, R-Fort Lauderdale, in the 2012 election. #

According to The Palm Beach Post, the group wants to “look into how former West Palm Beach mayor Lois Frankel‘s Democratic congressional campaign raised $254,605 in March while reporting only $706 in start-up expenditures.” #

The complaint (.pdf) was filed by the National Legal and Policy Center. According to SourceWatch, the center is a “front group and industry-funded conservative political and policy lobbying organization.” The group’s website says its aim is to “promote ethics in public life through research, investigation, education and legal action.” Most of the group’s funding comes from Richard Mellon Scaife’s foundation. Scaife is a “premier financier for right wing political and policy organizations in the United States,” according to SourceWatch. #

The group has accused Frankel’s campaign of running an “off-the-books campaign with respect to campaign expenditures.” It also says “the FEC should determine why her report covering activity through March 31 didn’t list expenditures for her consultant and for items such as a campaign phone, registering as a Florida corporation, registering a domain name and renting a post office box.” The center also states on its website that Frankel “took the rather novel approach of reporting the income but omitting most of the campaign’s expenses.” #

Frankel campaign consultant Brian Smoot explained to the Post that the reason the report did not list expenditures for a consultant is because he did not submit a bill for his services during his first two weeks on the job. He told the newspaper that the complaint was a “pathetic attempt” by West supporters “to smear Frankel.” #

The Post also pointed the National Legal and Policy Center is among those supporters. The group’s chairman, Ken Boehm, gave $250 to West’s unsuccessful 2008 campaign: #

Boehm said the complaint was not politically motivated, but came about after his group routinely reviewed hundreds of first-quarter FEC reports. He said the group is looking into filing complaints against three or four other campaigns, but Frankel’s “was just so easy that we did it first.” #

Much like last year’s contentious election that got West into office, many are expecting a similar atmosphere next year. West is getting special help from the National Republican Congressional Committee because of what the organization sees as his vulnerability in the next cycle. #

The Democratic, pro-abortion rights group Emily’s List has targeted West’s seat because of its vulnerability and because West has held an extreme socially conservative position on the topic of abortion and women’s rights. #

In a speech last April to a conservative Christian women’s group, West claimed that liberal women “neutering American men” were to blame for the country’s debt: #

We need you to come in and lock shields, and strengthen up the men who are going to the fight for you. To let these other women know, on the other side — these Planned Parenthood women, the Code Pink women, and all of these women that have been neutering American men and bringing us to the point of this incredible weakness — to let them know that we are not going to have our men become subservient. That’s what we need you to do. Because if you don’t, then the debt will continue to grow. #

Frankel is the term-limited mayor of West Palm Beach who also served as a Democratic state House member. She had previously told the Post that she expected to “raise $4 million for the race.” #

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