A Virginia political consultant who served as the treasurer of multiple Political Action Committees (PACs) pleaded guilty today to lying to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) about more than $32,000 in payments of PAC money that he directed to himself and a close friend.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger of the Eastern District of Virginia and Assistant Director in Charge Timothy R. Slater of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
Scott Buchanan Mackenzie, 66, of Arlington, Virginia, pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement to the FEC before U.S. District Judge Liam O’Grady of the Eastern District of Virginia. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Feb. 21, 2020, before Judge O’Grady.
According to admissions Mackenzie made in connection with his guilty plea, from 2011 through 2018, in the Eastern District of Virginia and elsewhere, Mackenzie was the treasurer of approximately 52 PACs, including Conservative StrikeForce, Conservative Majority Fund, Tea Party Majority Fund and Conservative Majority SuperFund. In that role, Mackenzie was responsible for complying with campaign finance laws and regulations and for filing accurate disclosure reports with the FEC that detailed the PACs’ true income and expenditures.
Person A was a resident of Winchester, Virginia, who had a personal relationship with Mackenzie and with whom Mackenzie shared a joint bank account. Between October 2011 and June 2014, Mackenzie caused approximately $32,500 in payments to Person A from bank accounts belonging to Conservative StrikeForce, Conservative Majority Fund and Conservative Majority SuperFund. Mackenzie falsely reported to the FEC that Person A received these payments for work that Person A had purportedly provided to Conservative StrikeForce and Conservative Majority Fund. In fact, as Mackenzie knew, Person A—an umbrella retailer with no experience in political fundraising—did not provide any of the purported services to these PACs. The funds were deposited into the bank account that Mackenzie shared with Person A.
In addition, Mackenzie also made false statements to the FEC to conceal the unlawful use of funds raised by Conservative Majority Fund and Tea Party Majority Fund to pay at least $172,200 in legal fees that Conservative StrikeForce and affiliated companies had incurred from a civil lawsuit brought by a former gubernatorial candidate for Virginia.
Finally, Mackenzie admitted that he participated in a scheme to use conduits (also known as straw donors) to make contributions to candidates running for federal public office. Mackenzie used conduits to make these contributions in order to evade limits that federal law placed on individual campaign contributions, as well as prohibitions against corporate contributions.
As part of his guilty plea, Mackenzie agreed to pay $172,200 in restitution to victims of his scheme to illegally funnel money between PACs to pay legal fees.
The FBI’s Washington Field Office is investigating the case. Trial Attorneys Bill Gullotta and John Taddei of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section (PIN) and Assistant U.S. Attorney Kimberly Pedersen of the Eastern District of Virginia are prosecuting the case. Former PIN attorney Molly Gaston provided significant assistance in the case.