Sean Eldridge, the husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, has been accused by Republicansof accepting an illegal in-kind campaign donation to his upstate New York congressional campaign.
Eldridge, a Democrat, is running to unseat Republican incumbent Rep. Chris Gibson. He and Hughes were married in 2012.
On Wednesday, the New York Daily News reported an unnamed “GOP source” provided them a copy of a complaint about Eldridge that Delaware County Republican Committee Chairwoman Maria Kelso sent to the Federal Election Commission last month. In the complaint, Kelso alleged Eldridge “violated the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971” and FEC regulations by using footage filmed by a local non-profit in one of his campaign videos. The FEC told the Daily News it had not yet received the complaint.
The clip in question appeared in a campaign launch video Eldridge posted on YouTube Sept. 22, 2013. In the video, Eldridge highlighted his work funding small, local business as president of the investment firm Hudson River Ventures. He also discussed the Hudson Valley Advanced Manufacturing Center at SUNY New Paltz, which he co-founded. Eldridge’s video features Larry Gottlieb, president and CEO of Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation, praising the 3D printing program at the center.
However, the complaint from Kelso claimed the footage of Gottlieb previously appeared in another video posted by the HVEDC in May of last year that touted investment in 3D printing in the Hudson Valley, including a $US250,000 grant from Eldridge. Kelso’s complaint argued Eldridge’s campaign launch used the footage from the earlier HVEDC video and points out Gottlieb appears to be wearing the same shirt and tie in both clips. Since the HVEDC video and the footage of Gottlieb are “clearly the property of HVEDC,” the committee argued allowing Eldridge to use the clip constituted an unlawful in-kind contribution to his campaign committee as corporations are not allowed to make direct donations to political campaigns.
“If, in fact, the HVEDC Video was legitimately produced for HVEDC, then the value of the footage used in both the HVEDC Video and the Announcement Video is clearly an in-kind contribution from HVEDC,” the complaint said. “As a corporation, HVEDC is absolutely prohibited from contributing to the Committee. Thus, HVEDC has made, and Eldridge and the Committee accepted, a prohibited corporate contribution.”
Morgan Hook, a spokesman for Eldridge, dismissed the complaint as an ineffective attack from Gibson.
“If Chris Gibson wants to direct attention to a video that shows Sean was creating jobs in the Hudson Valley while he was playing political games in Washington, we will gladly have this discussion,” Hook said. “The video in question is in the public domain, and there is no violation here.”
Watch Eldridge’s video and the HVEDC clip below.
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