A recent report found that former U.S. Rep. Francisco “Quico” Canseco, R-San Antonio, violated federal restrictions on foreign contributions to his 2010 House campaign.
A Federal Election Commission audit stated that a Mexican-registered corporation called Inmuebles Caza was the source of a $100,000 worth of loans that Canseco made to his 2010 congressional campaign. The audit found those actions to be “prohibited contributions from a foreign national corporation."
Canseco's camp argued that Inmuebles Caza is owned by Canseco Investments, Ltd., a Texas-based family-run company.
FEC staff maintained that the contributions were prohibited.
Campaign law experts say it is rare for alleged violations like those cited in the audit to go beyond the FEC. But there's evidence that Canseco’s election law problems had a role in his defeat in last May's runoff for the Texas 23rd District GOP nomination race.
The Houston Chronicle reported Monday on the November audit.
Canseco’s attorney did not return phone calls from The Texas Tribune seeking comment. But one attorney familiar with such inquiries said the matter would probably be settled within the FEC.
“If there are violations, they almost always are resolved in the civil proceeding involving the Federal Election Commission,” said Jan Baran, a Washington-based campaigns and elections attorney.
“And by result, they don’t always wind up with penalties," he added. "Allegations and violations are resolved either by dismissals or some type of settlement or decision that includes a civil penalty.”
But the FEC problems dogged Canseco behind the scenes in his 2014 comeback campaign.
Canseco lost re-election in 2012 to now-former Rep. Pete Gallego, D-Alpine. Raring for a rematch, Canseco almost immediately filed to run for again in the 2014 cycle.
As a former member, he traditionally would have had a strategic leg up on his Republican rival, current U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, in fundraising and party support.
Instead, he ran a head-scratchingly disorganized campaign, and national Republicans continued to recruit another candidate, even as Canseco asserted his comeback bid.
According to several state and national sources, Republicans worried the FEC issues would create major general election problems in what is traditionally Texas' only competitive House district.
Hurd easily defeated Canseco in a May runoff.
Until the summer of 2014, the 23rd District did not seem like a top pick-up opportunity to most Republicans. But the climate improved for the GOP, and national operatives praised Hurd’s performance as a candidate.
Hurd ousted Gallego in November, and the two are posturing for a rematch in 2016.