MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama's secretary of state said Friday he referred "potential concerns" about a past campaign finance filing by Sen. Luther Strange to a state ethics commission, but Strange's campaign said it's confident it followed the law.
Secretary of State John Merrill said he asked the commission in late spring to review Strange's latest disclosure when he was Alabama's attorney general. The issue involved interactions between Strange's Senate and attorney general campaign committees — after he had announced a Senate bid.
Merrill said in a statement that he was not trying to insinuate Strange had done anything wrong, but had questions about the report and wanted the Ethics Commission to weigh in.
Strange's Senate campaign gave his state committee about $1,000 in December, which was outside the state fundraising window.
Ben Ginsberg, a lawyer for Strange's campaign, said it was required payment to buy web domains owned by the state campaign for use in the Senate contest.
"It is legally incorrect for anyone to suggest that a violation of law has occurred here. Senator Strange's campaign closely followed federal law by purchasing two web domains at fair market value from his state campaign committee. This was an asset purchase, not a contribution," he said.
The campaign finance report filed in January also showed that Strange's state campaign committee continued to pay his longtime fundraiser until a few days before he announced he was running for Senate. A campaign spokeswoman said that while the fundraiser now works for the Senate campaign, the work was separate for each race.
Appointed to fill Attorney General Jeff Session's former Senate seat, Strange is in a competitive race for the seat outright. The primary is Aug. 15.
The ethics commission has not taken any public action, and its director declined comment. The next state ethics commission has been postponed because one member is out of the country.
Merrill said he his office reviews campaign finance filings and has asked the state ethics commission to review several of those over the past few years.