The Sun Herald has picked up on a story that began breaking earlier this week in D.C. involving Congressman Steven Palazzo's (R-MS) accounting firm. Heard on the Hill, a column in Capitol Hill's Roll Call newspaper, broke the news that Rep. Palazzo's CPA firm may be on shaky legal ground. Here's an excerpt from Roll Call:
Freshman Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) recently transferred ownership of his accounting firm, Palazzo & Co., to his wife to comply with federal requirements that lawmakers not have financial interests outside of Congress.
But in setting up the new corporate structure to satisfy House rules, it’s unclear whether Palazzo is adhering to state laws in Mississippi.
The problem is that certified public accounting firms such as Palazzo’s can only be owned by CPAs. The Congressman is one, but his wife, Lisa Palazzo, is not.That's all fine and good, but there's something else in the story, as well:
On the firm’s website, clients and visitors can contribute to the Expat Political Action Committee, originally advertised in a 2008 company tax alert newsletter.
“[I]n light of the current political and economic uncertainty one can never tell,” the alert reads. “That is why we have created the Expat Political Action Committee (EPAC) to protect, promote and preserve US Expat rights in Washington, DC. More on EPAC in future tax alerts.”
A thorough search of Federal Election Commission filings and the Mississippi secretary of state’s charities and nonprofit listings showed no evidence that a PAC of this name was ever registered or has made any political donations.
Yet the company’s site accepts EPAC contributions via a PayPal account attached to firstname.lastname@example.org. A receipt for a donation says, “You sent a payment ... to Steven Palazzo.”Palazzo's spokesman has since given a statement to the Sun Herald, saying that the PAC was never registered because it never met the FEC's required aggregate contribution threshold of $1,000.00. Palazzo's spokesman did not, however, address the fact that there was no filing in Mississippi.