The Federal Election Commission has fined Boston-based Suffolk Construction Co., a federal government contractor, for making illegal contributions to a pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC, according to a letter from the agency.
The $34,000 settlement between the FEC and Suffolk appears to mark the FEC's first penalty against a government contractor for illegally contributing money to a super PAC — a kind of political group that may raise unlimited amounts of money from corporations and unions.
The Center for Public Integrity first reported in April 2016 that Suffolk Construction had made a pair of $100,000 contributions to Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC supporting Clinton's 2016 Democratic presidential campaign. Campaign finance reform groups Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center filed a joint complaint with the FEC in July 2016, based in part on the Center for Public Integrity's previous reporting.
"We applaud the FEC for upholding the integrity of the contractor contribution ban,” said Brendan Fischer, the Campaign Legal Center's director of federal and FEC reform. “The reason federal contractors have been banned for 75 years from making political contributions is to prevent pay-to-play in the contracting process. Hopefully, this decision by the FEC deters companies with business before the government from attempting to buy influence in the future."