In response to reports that the Herman Cain campaign may have violated campaign finance laws, the organization Americans for Prosperity launched an internal review of its own dealings with Cain and non-profit organizations that have been used to fund his campaign. The results of AFP's review, according to AFP's Executive Vice President Tracy Henke, show that the organization legitimately reimbursed Cain and a staffer for four flights that occurred prior to the launch of his presidential campaign.
"There was a total of $9,657.40 that was paid for [Herman Cain] to speak at AFP or [Americans for Prosperity Foundation] events, but all last year in 2010," Henke told me. "We have done a review of our finances, as it relates to Mr. Cain, and we did not pay any honoraria at all. All we did was reimburse for himself and one staffer to travel to AFP or AFPF events."
According to Henke, the reimbursements were for flights taken in September or October 2010, but the invoice was not received until January 2011 and payment was made in February 2011. Cain launched his presidential exploratory committee in January of 2011.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported last week that two organizations founded by Cain campaign manager Mark Block had loaned $37,000 to the Cain presidential campaign. Campaign finance experts raised the alarm that these expenditures appear to have violated the law. "A tax-exempt organization cannot make contributions to a presidential campaign and cannot use intermediaries to mask its role in making contributions," Democracy21's Fred Wertheimer told the Center for Public Integrity.
The Center for Public Integrity and NBC's Michael Isikoff raised questions that Americans for Prosperity's financial dealings may have been improper (AFP has been targeted by the media and the left because the organization was founded by the Koch brothers). But AFP's reimbursements appear to have been above-board.
AFP's review does show a slight discrepancy, however, with the financial report of Prosperity USA, an organization with no affiliation to AFP that was founded by Cain campaign manager Mark Block.
AFP's records show that the organization reimbursed Cain and a staffer's travel for $9,657, but Prosperity USA's report claims that AFP paid Prosperity USA at least $11,000. The discrepancy appears to arise over reimbursement for Cain's appearance at the Right Nation conference at the request of AFP. Prosperity USA claims it was reimbursed $5,000 for the event, but AFP says it only reimbursed Cain and a staffer for $3,500 in travel costs.
Prosperity USA's report also claims it is owed $5,000 for "Troupls owed by AFP." It is unclear whether ProsperityUSA is indicating that it was reimbursed or is owed an additional $5,000 by AFP. AFP has no other records of reimbursements to Cain.
Cain campaign manager Mark Block and a Cain spokesman did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
John McCormack is a staff writer at THE WEEKLY STANDARD and 2011 Phillips Foundation fellow.