Busted! Jim Huffman to pay $30k fine for violating federal election laws

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Busted! Jim Huffman to pay $30k fine for violating federal election laws

Jim Huffman

It was one of the strange little mysteries of the 2010 election cycle. Jim Huffman, the law professor and GOP opponent of Senator Ron Wyden, disclosed in his quarterly reports that he'd loaned a total of $1.35 million to his campaign.

The only problem? Previous disclosures had listed his total non-home assets as between $500k and $1m, and he didn't disclose a loan against his house. So, where did the money come from?

Now, we know. As we all suspected, it was from his wife, Leslie Spencer. And because their assets were not jointly held, a contribution or a loan from her in excess of $2400 is illegal. So, the DPO filed a complaint.

And now, Huffman has been fined $29,900 by the Federal Elections Commission (pdf). The FEC noted that Huffman "reported the receipt of six loans from Huffman’s personal funds that were not from his personal funds because, based on Huffman’s personal financial disclosure statement, Huffman did not have sufficient personal funds to make the loans."

At the time, Huffman told the O's Jeff Mapes that the loans were "strictly legal". According to the FEC summary of facts, Huffman and Spencer "operated under a good faith belief that .. the personal loans were permissible regardless of the specific origin of the funds."

Which is kinda funny, because Huffman worked kinda hard to cover up where the money was coming from. Again, the FEC summary of facts (to which Huffman has agreed):

FTCI wired funds from Ms. Spencer's trust account in the amounts of $50,000, $150,000 and $200,000 to Mr. Huffman's and Ms. Spencer's joint account at Bank of the West on March 15, 2010, April 8, 2010, and July 1, 2010, that were used to fund loans of the same amounts disclosed bythe Committee as from Mr. Huffman's personal funds on March 30, 2010, March 31, 2010, and June 30, 2010, respectively. To fund a loan of $500,000 on September 14, 2010, also disclosed as from Mr. Huffman's personal funds, Ms. Spencer wired $500,000 from her FTCI line of credit to the joint bank account at Bank of the West on September 13, 2010, and Mr. Huffman then wired those funds to the Committe's account at Wachovia Bank the next day.

Yeah, so we had a law professor - a dean! - conspire to violate federal law in an attempt to steal a U.S. Senate election. And despite all that, and despite spending $2,177,539 more than Wyden's 2004 opponent, he bumped the GOP vote total against Wyden from 32% to 39%. (That's more than $300,000 per percentage point.)

It'd be hilarious if it wasn't so sad.

I guess we know why Huffman ain't running for Attorney General now - or anything else.

Comments

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    Full disclosure: My firm built Ron Wyden's campaign website. I speak only for myself.

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    Wow. How often is it exactly what you think it is?

    Professor Huffman's a nice enough guy, but he was in over his head against Senator Wyden. Really proud to have helped Ron secure that strong re-election victory in a tough year for Democrats across the country.

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      He needs to publicly apologize to the students and alumni of Lewis and Clark Law School. What he did is what he is supposed to be teaching his students not to do.

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    FYI Kari, Dean Huffman rather famously did not take a Bar exam after he got his JD nor was he a practicing lawyer, so he was never in the running for AG. The story told on campus was that he challenged the rules in Montana that allowed graduates of the state's law school to skip the Bar (he went to U Chicago), but lost at the state Supreme Court. Since he had been looking at academics anyway, he took that as a sign to go straight into teaching (which is fairly common for law professors, particularly ones like him with other advanced degrees). No idea if this story was true, but that was the word on campus.

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      Huh. I've never heard that story, and I worked at L&C for over six years in the communications shop.

      If true, that's bizarre. I had no idea it was possible to be a law professor without being a lawyer.

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        That was the story from my legal ethics class circa 2005.

        Its fairly common to have law professors that have only been academics, particularly if someone has a graduate degree to go along with the JD. There is more than one at L&C, and higher ranked schools can have a decent percent.

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    Could someone explain to me why he's still a "law professor" anywhere outside Mississippi?

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    I LOL'd!

    "an attempt to steal a U.S. Senate election"

    Wyden won by almost 18% -- hyperbole much?

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      Totally. Violating federal law is totally OK if you know you're going to lose by a lot.

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        That doesn't even make any sense.

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          You seemed to argue that it was OK to violate federal campaign finance law if the vote margin was huge.

          I'm saying that it doesn't matter how big the final vote total was, Professor Huffman attempted to steal a U.S. Senate election by violating (fairly obvious) campaign finance laws.

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            I said no such thing. I was making fun of your wild hyperbole regarding "stealing" the election when, his opponent won by an 18 point margin. You're funny sometimes Kari!

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    At least his wife and kids live here.

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    That he's not a member of the Oregon State Bar was news to me....and means he can't hold himself out as a lawyer in Oregon.

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      There are plenty of Oregon lawyers who are not members of the Bar. Lawyers associated with the federal system (usually the criminal law side of things) are sometimes not Oregon lawyers, and one very good federal judge is not an Oregon lawyer.

      At the same time, Huffman's opining about Oregon law and the Oregon Constitution is usually obnoxious (and ignorant).

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      Jonathan's correct. For example, the US Attorney's office only requires you to be a member of A bar, not the Oregon bar, because you will only be in federal court. They still can call themselves lawyers, they simply can't take business other than that the federal government gives them.

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