Election commission raises questions about Senate candidate Joe Carr's campaign disclosure

photo Joe Carr
Arkansas-Tennessee Live Blog

NASHVILLE -- The Federal Election Commission is raising questions about Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Joe Carr's latest campaign finance disclosure.

In a letter dated Monday to Carr's campaign treasurer, FEC officials are seeking among other things to determine whether a $9,564.54 contribution to the campaign, made on March 31 by Nashville-based Life Watch Pharmacy, is legal or represents an illegal corporate campaign contribution.

"Schedule A of your report discloses a receipt/contribution without an explanation that appears to be from a limited liability corporation (LLC)," wrote Carolina Mongeon, a senior campaign finance analyst with the federal watchdog agency.

The letter goes on to say that federal law allows contributions from LLCs "providing the LLC is treated as a partnership for tax purposes, and has not elected to be treated as a corporation by the Internal Revenue Service."

It says LLCs that claim corporate status and those that are publicly traded "would be would be treated as corporations for FECA [Federal Election Campaign Act] purposes. Please amend your report to clarify if the receipt is a contribution from a LLC and, if so, indicate whether the LLC in question is treated as a partnership."

If "any apparently prohibited contribution in question was incompletely or incorrectly disclosed, you must amend your original report with clarifying information," the letter says.

Carr is running in the GOP's August 7 primary election against U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.

Tennessee Secretary of State corporate filings show the firm was created as a LLC but do not address the tax issue raised by the FEC.

According to filings on HIPPASpace.com, a website offering Medicaid verification for medical providers, a Lifewatch Pharmacy is associated with M2G Med-Management Group. The lone "member" or principal listed is Nashville health care investor Andrew Miller, a sometimes controversial figure.

In 2012 Miller gave more than $260,000 to two super PACs - Citizens 4 Ethics in Government and the Congressional Elections PAC - that ran a series of ads blasting U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn. Miller had previously served as finance committee chairman for Black's then-challenger, Lou Ann Zelenik.

Miller also served on the board of the Tennessee Freedom Coalition, which is opposed to the spread of Islamic Sharia law.

The Federal Election isn't concerned with that but the possibility of a corporate contribution. Corporate contributions are legal in Tennessee for state candidates but federal law prohibits them.

Other concerns raised by the FEC in its letter were two instances where individuals appeared to contribute more than the $2,600 individual limit per election. Some Carr expenditures failed to list an explanation for why disbursements were made.

Last month, the Times Free Press reported that Carr went months without filing his required personal financial disclosure required of all U.S. Senate candidates. He filed one after the newspaper's inquiry with the campaign calling it an oversight.