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Sen. Mike Lee home sale didn’t violate campaign finance laws, FEC says

SHARE Sen. Mike Lee home sale didn’t violate campaign finance laws, FEC says
Senator Mike Lee speaks at a Rally in Draper Utah, at the American Preparatory Academy Saturday, March 19, 2016.

Senator Mike Lee speaks at a Rally in Draper Utah, at the American Preparatory Academy Saturday, March 19, 2016.

Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The Federal Election Commission has found that Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, didn't violate campaign finance laws with the short sale of his Alpine house five years ago.

The Alliance for a Better Utah filed a complaint against Lee in 2014, alleging he accepted improper campaign donations from the company that took a loss in the sale and a campaign contributor who bought the home and leased Lee another house.

"We are pleased with but not surprised by the FEC report. Sen. Lee has been focused on advocating his conservative reform agenda and will continue to push this important work in the Senate," said his campaign manager, Jordan Hess.

The group alleged Lee had received a prohibited national bank contribution when JPMorgan Chase approved the short sale of a $400,000 home and then waived the balance that he still owed on his mortgage.

The FEC found no facts to show Lee received a benefit that wasn't available to anyone else in a similar situation or that the waiver wasn't made in the ordinary course of business.

The FEC said the transactions were independent of Lee running for office and that they did not free up any funds for him to use in his campaign. It also said there is no indication the homebuyer would not have engaged in those transactions but for Lee's candidacy.

Josh Kanter, Better Utah founder and president, said Utahns expect their leaders to lead by example.

"Since being elected, Sen. Lee has shown that his leadership model consists primarily of obstructionism, even resulting in the infamous 2013 shutdown of the federal government," he said.

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