FEC sues Utah businessman over campaign contributions to 2 US senators, ex-Utah AG

Associated Press

The Federal Election Commission is suing a Utah businessman, saying he made $170,000 in illegal campaign contributions to U.S. Sens. Harry Reid of Nevada and Mike Lee of Utah and former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff in 2009 and 2010.

The FEC's lawsuit, filed Friday in Salt Lake City federal court, says Jeremy Johnson gave tens of thousands of dollars to friends, family members and employees to make "straw donations" to the three in violation of campaign finance laws.

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Federal law limited campaign contributions to $2,400 per person each election at the time.

Johnson is accused of donating some $100,000 to Shurtleff, $50,000 to Lee and $20,000 to Reid to protect his business interests from federal prosecution.

Reid, a Democrat, and Lee, a Republican, won. Shurtleff dropped out of the U.S. Senate race.

Johnson told The Salt Lake Tribune he's outraged because the FEC complaint stems from interviews with investigators who guaranteed him immunity.