A Democratic political organization says GOP Senate candidate Alan L. Keyes broke federal election laws by exceeding fund-raising limits before declaring his candidacy and improperly using corporate resources in his race against Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski.
The charges were filed yesterday by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, a partisan political organization that promotes the election of Democrats to the U.S. Senate. Senator Mikulski is a member of the committee.
The Keyes campaign immediately denied any wrongdoing.
"We've done everything above board and by the book," said Allyson Bell, the campaign's political director. She said she had not seen the charges and would not comment on them until formal notification is received from the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Mr. Keyes said he found it remarkable that the Mikulski campaign was "dredging around to find things that don't exist." The charges were not filed by Senator Mikulski or her campaign, but Mr. Keyes saw them as evidence that his campaign is making inroads.
"It's quite obvious to me that we're beating them on the issues," he said.
In a letter dated July 2, the senatorial committee charges that a Keyes committee called the Campaign for Maryland's Future (CMF) actually was "a stalking-horse" for the 1992 Keyes campaign.
Formed in 1988 as a "multiple candidate committee," the Campaign for Maryland's Future attacked Ms. Mikulski and solicited funds for Mr. Keyes. One of CMF's letters, signed by Mr. Keyes, said, "One of the biggest problems I faced when I ran in 1988 [against Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, D-Md.] was that I started too late. We must not fall into that same trap."
In August 1991, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee says, CMF made a $5,000 contribution to Mr. Keyes' campaign.
The committee also targets Mr. Keyes' work as president of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW), a private, Washington-based organization that fights for control of government spending on programs. Mr. Keyes was president of the group for two years. During that time, the committee says, he turned it into a "vehicle" for his campaign, taking advantage of its staff and other resources to promote his candidacy.
The complaint alleges specifically that Mr. Keyes:
* Had received campaign contributions totaling $15,000 two months before his official declaration of candidacy Nov. 18, 1991. Under the law, anyone who receives contributions totaling more than $5,000 is a candidate and must file a statement of candidacy within 15 days -- something Mr. Keyes failed to do, according to the complaint.
* "Merged" the operations of Citizens Against Government Waste with his Senate campaign. The committee says its "merger" conclusion is based on two official campaign finance ,, reports. The first is the Dec. 31, 1991, year-end report showing a debt owed by the campaign to Citizens Against Government Waste of $2,500 for "postage, rent and telephone" expenses.
On Feb. 21 of this year, the Keyes campaign reported its debt to CAGW had risen to $8,980.92. Unless repaid within a "commercially reasonable time" -- 30 to 60 days -- a debt stands as an illegal corporate contribution. Repayment was not made within this time frame, the committee says.
The senatorial campaign committee finds other improper linkages between the Keyes campaign and the anti-waste organization, including staff members who served in his 1988 campaign, his 1992 campaign and as employees of CAGW.
The committee also says Mr. Keyes used the CAGW contributor mailing list to raise money for his campaign: "I know in the past that you have generously supported CAGW with contributions of $20 or more," says a letter from CAGW included in the VTC committee's allegations. "Can I ask you to accept my invitation to join my Keyes National Steering Committee and send a contribution of $30?"
It continues, "If there is any way you can send $30 it would mean I could definitely afford the first wave of television media which is so important to my campaign."
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee says the violations it alleges should not be allowed to continue. But if the past is any guide, the results of an FEC investigation will not be known until well after this fall's election.