IN Focus: Indiana GOP, Dem chairs react to Sen. Mike Braun campaign audit

IN Focus: Indiana Politics

INDIANAPOLIS – The Federal Elections Commission is raising questions regarding Senator Mike Braun’s campaign finances. In an audit report not yet finalized, the FEC cites numerous errors in how the senator reported his contributions. It also points to millions of dollars in prohibited loans during his Senate run in 2018.

In the 57-page report, the FEC describes more than $8.5 million in “apparent prohibited loans and lines of credit” that was given to the senator’s campaign. One of these contributions, totaling $1.5 million, was from Meyer Distributing. Sen. Braun founded and ran the company before his run for federal office.

Sen. Braun attributes the possible missteps to the campaign’s treasurer, who his team has not been able to reach for an explanation.

Those accusations have political leaders speaking out across Indiana.

In an interview with IN Focus, Kyle Hupfer, State Party Chairman for the Indiana GOP, said since the allegations are from a draft document, Hupfer believes Sen. Braun will be cleared of any wrongdoing once the finalized report is released.

IN Focus: read the FEC draft report here.

“From everything that I’ve seen, the donations were either from him or his own corporation in a way that appears to be perfectly legal.” Hupfer said. “I’ve seen nothing that is overly-troublesome here, but the FEC will sort that out and they’ll give us a report.”

The FEC’s audit has outraged Indiana Democrats, saying that the millions in potentially illegal contributions played a crucial role in the election. Speaking to IN Focus, chairman of the Indiana Democrats Mike Schmuhl accused Sen. Braun of using his potentially illegal campaign cash to shift the election’s results.

“We’re talking about potentially millions of dollars that very likely changed the outcome of the race in 2018,” Schmuhl said.

In response, Hupfer said he felt the senator’s campaign was fully transparent with where the money was coming from.

“Sound like regardless of what happened here, the Braun campaign was acting in good faith in reporting how these loans and contributions were structured,” Hupfer said. “I don’t know what the FEC will come out with, but certainly there was transparency that these dollars coming into this campaign were from Mike Braun himself.”

Hupfer also discussed the federal infrastructure bill passed through Congress, and Schmuhl’s comments on Republicans being an obstructionist party. Hupfer pushed back on this assertion, saying that “the American people are not in line with what’s coming out of Washington.”

Following electoral wins in Virginia, Republican officials are reportedly turning to other battleground races across the country. Viewing it as a potentially crucial election in the 2022 midterms, Hupfer said leaders have their eyes on flipping Indiana’s 1st congressional district. It’s currently represented by Democrat Frank Mrvan.

“We certainly are investing some time and dollars up there early, kind of getting a lay of the land,” Hupfer said. “If the Indiana 1st is in play, it’s going to be a great, great day for Republicans across the country.”

Listen to more of Kyle Hupfer from this week’s IN Focus in the video above.

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