A Philadelphia-area Democratic congressional primary took a rancorous turn as one of the leading contenders accused the other of violating campaign finance law.
Pennsylvania state Sen. Daylin Leach (D) filed a complaint Thursday with the Federal Election Commission charging that former Rep. Marjorie Margolies (D-Pa.) illegally mixed primary and general election funds.
"Federal elections law requires campaigns to segregate funds raised for the general election to be spent only for the general election," Leach's complaint reads. "Only primary-eligible funds, raised within the federal limits, may be employed to win a primary election. Based on her campaign's FEC reports, Margolies committed repeated, willful, and significant breaches of the primary/general wall, spending tens of thousands of dollars in general election funds on her consultants and other vendors for the primary election."
In the complaint, Leach says that Margolies spent more than $70,000 in general election funds from Jan. 15 through March 31. At the end of the fundraising quarter, Margolies' campaign reported that it had just shy of $160,000 in cash on hand, with only $5,000 available for the primary.
Margolies' senior adviser and spokesman, Ken Smukler, told The Philadelphia Inquirer that her campaign "has at all times complied with all federal campaign laws. Period." Smukler called Leach's complaint an attempt "to save his desperate campaign."
Former President Bill Clinton headlined a fundraiser for Margolies earlier this month, which brought in about $200,000 for her campaign. Chelsea Clinton married Margolies' son, Marc Mezvinsky, in 2010.
Margolies served as the district's representative in Congress for one term starting in 1993. She is considered a front-runner for the Democratic nomination because of her name identification in the district.
State Rep. Brendan Boyle and physician Val Arkoosh are also contesting the May 20 Democratic primary. Pennsylvania's 13th District is strongly Democratic, so the party's nominee is expected to have an easy time winning the general election.