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FEC pressed to probe Dish TV chief

Complaint claims he ‘compelled’ giving to Democrats

- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 20, 2012

A watchdog group wants federal election regulators to investigate whether the head of a major satellite-television company forced company executives to donate to prominent Democratic campaigns in recent years.

Citing an "insider" source, the nonprofit Cause of Action filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission late Wednesday asking investigators to look into whether Dish Network's chairman threatened executives with the loss of their jobs if they refused to donate to favored candidates.

The complaint, made public on Thursday, said the watchdog had received information from a source it did not identify that Dish executives, including Chief Operating Officer Bernard Han, were being "compelled" to make political donations by the company's chairman, Charles Ergen.

"The insider explained that Ergen insinuated to Han that 'you still have your job,' but would suffer consequences if he failed to follow Ergen's orders."

The complaint also said that executives were contributing in ways that closely aligned donations from the company's political action committee, "potentially indicating that the executives were forced to contribute to whatever fund the corporate PAC chose."

Recipients of the donations included the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, as well as individual campaigns for politicians such as Democratic Reps. Diana DeGette of Colorado and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, who chairs the Democratic National Committee.

Bob Toevs, a spokesman for Dish, disputed the complaint in a statement Thursday to The Washington Times.

"The allegations in the complaint are untrue and completely unfounded," he said.

The request for the Dish investigation came on the same day that two other watchdog groups — the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 — pressed the FEC to investigate what they said were potential campaign-finance violations tied to a political action committee called FreedomWorks for America.

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