A group that produced robocalls promoting the now-sunk port privatization efforts was accused of campaign finance violations by a watchdog group in Washington for election-season TV ads in Ohio.
Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington, or CREW, filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commissions against the group, Checks and Balances for Economic Growth, a tax-exempt 501(c)(4).
CBEG put out two robocalls -- one that slammed former Virginia International Terminals CEO and president Joe Dorto as overpaid, and one that characterized the privatization plan as an effort of Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell. It also aired radio ads in Hampton Roads. But a year earlier the group bought at least $896,000-worth of TV ads slamming President Barack Obama and Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, according to CREW's executive director Melanie Sloan.
CREW's complaint says both ads were meant to influence an election and because CBEG's spending went way beyond a $10,000 limit for such communications it triggered a federal requirement that the group report its expenditures to the FEC.
No FEC report was filed, however, and CREW's complaint asks the commission to investigate and sanction CBEG.
The document was posted on CREW's website Wednesday.
After the Virginia robocalls began to circulate, executives at the Virginia Maritime Association called them sleazy and promised to find out whose donations to CBEG fueled the calls and ads.
However unlike the Ohio ads, the Virginia activity falls under the umbrella of issue advocacy, and it's not clear there will be any way to force CBEG to disclose its donors, something it has not ever done.
The group's president Dan Perrin cut short a phone interview, when the Daily Press contacted him shortly after those calls were produced.