A nonprofit campaign finance watchdog in Washington, D.C., has filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the campaign treasurer for the late Congressman Mark Takai, alleging that Dylan Beesley “illegally converted the late Congressman’s leftover campaign funds to personal use.”
“Despite the fact that (FEC) regulations anticipate a six-month winding-down period, almost 18 months after Takai’s passing, there are few disbursements that would suggest the committee is winding down,” the Campaign Legal Center said in its 13-page complaint filed today with the FEC.
“Taken together, these facts suggest that Beesley is not doing much of anything to justify earning $5,759.16 per month,” it said.
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported earlier this month that Takai’s re-election campaign, Mark Takai for Congress, issued more than a dozen payments between August 2016 and September 2017 totaling $86,508 to Lanakila Strategies LLC, which is controlled by Beesley, also the campaign’s treasurer. New FEC filings show Beesley continued to authorize monthly payments to his consulting firm in the final months of 2017, bringing his total payments received to just under $104,000 in the 18 months since Takai’s death.
“Certainly the nearly $6,000 in monthly payments from the campaign account to Beesley just seemed incredibly excessive, because it’s not clear that Beesley is doing much of anything to actually earn that money,” attorney Brendan Fischer, director of federal and FEC reform at Campaign Legal Center, said in an interview. “Takai’s campaign is not active. He’s obviously not running for re-election again.”
Fischer said the FEC can impose fines for violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act, and if actions are found to be “knowing and willful,” can refer cases to the Department of Justice.
The family of the late congressman, meanwhile, defended Beesley’s actions for the first time today, saying in a statement that he was retained “to help manage the campaign’s affairs” and set up a foundation in Takai’s name.
“He has worked to help us to focus on the next steps so that we could close the campaign down and create a foundation in Mark’s name and use it for good causes here in Hawaii,” Gary Kai, the father of Takai’s widow, Sami, said in an emailed statement. “Payments to him during this period were authorized. … We want to express our gratitude to Dylan for his help and support.”
Reached for comment, Beesley said, “I’m going to let the strong support of the Takai family speak for itself.” He declined to comment on the FEC complaint.
Beesley previously said that after Takai’s death the campaign had a surplus of funds and obligations that have required “some personnel to continue to manage its affairs” before the Takai family decides how to “dispose of the campaign’s assets and conclude its activities.”