WASHINGTON – A Chevy Chase millionaire and former state senator has paid the government $4,000 in fines for violating campaign laws, the Federal Election Commission reported.
Stewart Bainum Jr. exceeded caps on campaign giving in 1992 and 1993 by funneling $4,000 in contributions to federal candidates through his young son, Bradford, said the FEC conciliation agreement, made public Monday.
All of the contributions were made before Bradford had turned 2.
FEC records show the checks were drawn on a bank account owned and controlled by Stewart Bainum Jr. and his wife, Sandra.
Federal law allows children under 18 to make donations, but they must do so “knowingly and voluntarily.” And the money must come from an account owned or controlled by them, such as a trust fund.
Stewart Bainum Jr., the chief executive of Manor Care Inc., one of the nation’s largest nursing home chains, said in a written statement Tuesday that the contributions made in his son’s name stemmed from his misunderstanding of federal election law.
However, he added, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse, and I take full responsibility for my mistake. In my eagerness to support several deserving candidates, I overstepped the proper bounds of campaign giving.”
Deborah Povich, executive director of Common Cause of Maryland, said the fine and Bainum’s acknowledgement of his mistakes “seem appropriate.”
“Though justice was slow, it looks like it’s been done,” she said.
FEC records show that in every instance that Stewart Bainum Jr. made a contribution in his son’s name, he had already reached the allowable cap on how much he could give that particular candidate. Federal law says an individual may give no more than $1,000 to any congressional candidate for a primary election and $1,000 for a general election.
According to FEC records, donations of $1,000 apiece were made in Bradford’s name to the 1992 presidential campaign of Democrat Paul Tsongas, and to the congressional campaigns of Democrats Chester Atkins of Massachusetts, and Albert Wynn and Thomas Hattery of Maryland.
None of the candidates’ campaigns were fined by the FEC. Both Wynn’s and Hattery’s campaigns returned the money after they were notified of the problem. Treasurers for the other two candidates said the campaigns are in debt, but promised to return the money when it comes in.