Political consultant pleads guilty in campaign contributions case

A Virginia political consultant pleads guilty to illegally coordinating campaign contributions

A Virginia political consultant pleaded guilty Thursday to illegally coordinating campaign contributions from a political action committee to a congressional candidate.

The Justice Department said the case was the first such prosecution in the U.S. Officials hoped it would serve as a warning against others engaging in similar illegal coordination.

While there are limits on the amount an individual can contribute to a federal campaign, independent groups do not face the same restrictions. But federal law prohibits coordination between such groups and candidates themselves.

Tyler E. Harber of Alexandria, Va., was the campaign manager for Republican Chris Perkins, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in Virginia in 2012. At the same time, according to the Justice Department, he was the founder of a PAC that spent $325,000 on advertising to boost Perkins’ campaign.

In his plea agreement, Harber admitted that he knew the collusion was illegal and that he had used an alias to conceal his actions, the Justice Department said.

“The Department of Justice is fully committed to addressing the threat posed to the integrity of federal primary and general elections by coordinated campaign contributions, and will aggressively pursue coordination offenses at every appropriate opportunity,” said Assistant Atty. Gen. Leslie R. Caldwell.

Harber is to be sentenced June 5.

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