Daily Herald (UT), Jun. 15
A Provo resident told the Daily Herald on Monday that he has filed a complaint against Congressman Chris Cannon, R-Utah, with the Federal Election Commission alleging that Cannon violated federal law on a Spanish-language radio show last month by encouraging illegal immigrants to donate to his campaign through their children.
Russell Sias has vigorously opposed Cannon’s re-election. “I’m sick and tired of the dishonesty floating around this man,” said Sias, who made a controversial statement earlier this year about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ position on immigration, and was ousted from a local immigration reform group because of it.
Joe Hunter, Cannon’s chief of staff, said Sias’ complaint is unfounded because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled late last year that children who are American citizens have a First Amendment right to make campaign contributions.
During the radio segment, Cannon aide Marco Diaz encouraged undocumented migrants — who are prohibited from donating to political campaigns — “to find someone else who is legal in order to donate money.”
Children who are citizens may make legal campaign donations, according to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in December 2003 that struck down a rule in the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 that outlawed donations by children.
In McConnell v. the Federal Election Commission, the court ruled the restriction was unconstitutional, saying that it violated children’s First Amendment rights to freedom of expression and association.
According to an English transcript of the radio program, broadcast in May on KBJA-AM 1640, Diaz said federal law “really does prohibit from doing some things, and we want to do everything by the rule. If not, our opponent can attack us and say, ‘You see, he is trying to influence the race with people that are not here legally in this country.’ Therefore, it has to be done with precaution.
“We want all your help. It is important because I believe, as the congressman said, this is going to be a big signal.”
That statement is apparently what prompted Sias to file his complaint.
On the radio program, Cannon did not address the question of children of illegal migrants. He said in Spanish, “The minor children of citizens . . . yes they can donate.”
Sias said he received word Monday that the commission had received his complaint. He expects to have a response within five days.
Sias’ complaint comes a little more than a week before Republicans choose their candidate for the 3rd Congressional District — Cannon’s seat. Cannon faces Matt Throckmorton, a vocal opponent of illegal immigration, in the June 22 primary.
Cannon appeared on the Spanish-language radio program with Diaz and radio host Jose Rivera in Salt Lake City. During the segment, Diaz and Rivera encouraged their listeners to register to vote and to donate small amounts of money to Cannon’s campaign. Rivera called Cannon “a friend of the Hispanic.”
Hunter said anti-immigration groups have been passing around an incomplete transcript of the show for weeks. He said the transcript doesn’t include Cannon’s explanation of campaign finance law and the Supreme Court ruling last year.
Sias said he heard about the transcript through word-of-mouth, got his own copy and decided to do something about what he considered a violation of federal law.
On the radio, Rivera said the “good side” for Hispanics is Cannon’s side, and the “bad side” is Throckmorton’s side.