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New Florida GOP lawmaker draws scrutiny over illegal election fundraising

Published: Wednesday, December 05, 2018 @ 3:20 PM

Along with calling for an investigation of possible absentee ballot fraud in a Congressional election in North Carolina, Democrats are now raising their voices about a Republican who won a U.S. House seat in Florida, after Rep.-elect Ross Spano (R-FL) acknowledged that he may have broken federal election laws by accepting large loans from two friends and then diverting much of the money into his own campaign as 'personal funds.'

"Ross Spano knew exactly what he was doing when he took personal loans and used them as campaign funds, which is against the law," the Florida Democratic Party said on Twitter. "This should disqualify Spano from serving in Congress."

Spano has admitted taking $180,000 in loans from two friends during the 2018 campaign, then funneling much of that money into his campaign as a personal loan.

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In Congress, Democrats said it was possible Spano could be in big legal trouble.

In a letter to the Federal Election Commission last week, Spano's lawyer said the candidate simply didn't know the loan of the 'personal funds' were possibly illegal.

"Thank you for your consideration, and we look forward to discussing this matter in further detail with the Office of General Counsel," Spano's lawyer Elliot Berke wrote in a November 30 letter.

Like the race in North Carolina's Ninth Congressional District - which is beset with allegations of possible absentee ballot fraud - it's possible that Democrats could press to ask questions in the House about this race in Florida's 15th Congressional District.

Compared to his Democratic opponent Kristen Carlson, Spano was at a fundraising disadvantage in the election; last week, Carlson asked the FBI to investigate Spano's money questions.

Even one of Spano's Republican primary opponents has attacked Spano.

"This small man thinks he can break the law and get sent to Congress," said Neil Combee, who called Spano 'a dirty criminal.'

"Let’s have a do over, this time, we all play by the rules," Combee added.

Like the race in North Carolina, where Democrats have called for an investigation by Congress, Spano could still face a review by the House - as Democrats will be in charge in the 116th Congress.

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