By Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2021

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes’ campaign was fined more than $1,600 for taking too much in-kind contributions from a political action committee, a fine the campaign inaccurately stated as a payment for legal fees to the state Elections Commission, according to a published report.

State law limits a candidate for lieutenant governor to $26,000 in donations from a PAC. But campaign records show Barnes’ campaign received five in-kind donations from the Wisconsin Working Families Party Political Action Committee in 2018 for a value of $27,652, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

The Milwaukee Democrat agreed to pay a $1,652 forfeiture to the state Ethics Commission for the excessive amount, described in a July 2020 campaign report as legal fees.

A state Republican spokeswoman criticized Barnes for the campaign finance violation, saying it fits of a pattern of mistakes by Barnes who in the past has been delinquent on property taxes and was blocked from registering a car because of unpaid parking tickets.

“Mandela Barnes can’t follow laws as basic as paying parking tickets or property taxes, and his own campaign violated campaign finance law?” said Anna Kelly, communications director for the state GOP. “If Barnes repeatedly breaks the law, why should Wisconsinites keep him in a position of public trust?”

Barnes’ campaign responded by accusing Republicans of focusing on issues from the past.

Barnes has said he’s considering a run in 2022 for the seat currently held by U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican who has yet to say whether he will seek a third term.

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