The Federal Election Commission wants Joe Sestak to clarify his intentions about the 2016 race for U.S. Senate.
Sestak, having passed the threshold of merely exploring a run, must either disavow his candidacy or declare that he is indeed seeking election to the Senate, the federal regulatory agency said in a June 26 letter to the former congressman’s campaign committee.
Sestak, a former Navy rear admiral and the 2010 Democratic candidate for Senate, announced in May that he was exploring a 2016 rematch with Sen. Pat Toomey (R.,Pa.), who defeated him narrowly.
But he raised and spent well over the $5,000 limit that defines an active candidate, as the Pennsylvania Republican Party noted in a complaint to the FEC.
“You have thirty-five (35) days from receipt of this notification to disavow these Activities,” the letter says. “To disavow send a letter directly to the Commission, marked Attention: Reports Analysis Division, stating that you are not a candidate for Federal Office and that you have not authorized the solicitation of contributions nor the making of expenditures on your behalf.”
Of course, “if you do not disavow these activities, you should file a Statement of Candidacy (FEC FORM 2),” the letter says. It also notes that if he is running for the Senate, that fact must be recorded with the office of the Secretary of the Senate.
Sestak said Monday that the letter was "pro forma," and that the FEC had told the campaign earlier this year that they would be receiving it. The committee is exploratory, he said, and it is legal.
The letter was first reported by the website PoliticsPA.
Sestak raised $670,000 in the first half of 2013 under the aegis of “Friends of Joe Sestak.” His previous committee from the 2010 race was called “Sestak for Senate.” PoliticsPA theorized that the FEC notice may stem from confusion: Sestak’s campaign considers them two separate committees, but they share the same FEC record number and address.