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February 2, 2009

Sodrel subject of Federal Election Commission complaint

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, filed a complaint Thursday against former Republican Congressman Mike Sodrel, alleging illegal political attacks against Rep. Baron Hill.

After losing in his first attempt in 2002, Sodrel defeated Hill in the 2004 election to claim Indiana’s 9th District seat in the House. He then lost to Hill in 2006 and 2008.

The Federal Election Commission received the complaint, which also names the organizations Citizens for Truth and the Economic Freedom Fund.

“There is overwhelming evidence that Mike Sodrel engaged in a pattern of multiple violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act by illegally coordinating his attacks on Congressman Hill with the shady soft money groups Citizens for Truth and the Economic Freedom Fund,” stated Jennifer Crider, communications director for the DCCC, in an e-mail.

The DCCC claims Sodrel, Citizens for Truth and the Economic Freedom Fund are guilty of accepting and making illegal in-kind contributions, failing to register as a political committee with the Election Commission and not reporting coordinated communications and expenditures.

“We’re filing this complaint to hold Mike Sodrel and his soft money supporters accountable for attempting to skirt federal election law and deceive Indiana voters,” Crider said.

DCCC boasts evidence of phone records that Citizens for Truth head Bud Bernitt made 71 contacts in two months leading up to the 2006 election with key members of Sodrel’s official and campaign staff.

Those calls include 27 alleged conversations between Bernitt and Chris Crabtree, Sodrel’s Bloomington office director and chief of staff. DCCC claims those calls were made between Sept. 1 and Nov. 6, 2006.

The complaint also is based on Citizens for Truth’s alleged advertisements attacking Hill. It claims the Web site bragged of releasing hundreds of ads and sponsoring 38 billboards against Hill.

According to DCCC, Citizens for Truth spent more than $10,000 airing radio ads against Hill in both 2004 and 2006, but is not registered with the Election Commission and has not reported making independent expenditures related to those ads.

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