Under the Dome

No, Richard Burr didn’t get a donation from this liberal group. It was from KFC instead.

FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, file photo, a close-up of a sign with a picture of Colonel Sanders is shown on the wall of a combination Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell in Doral, Fla.
FILE - In this Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, file photo, a close-up of a sign with a picture of Colonel Sanders is shown on the wall of a combination Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell in Doral, Fla. AP

The donation certainly stood out: Why would ActBlue, a liberal small-dollar fundraising group, contribute $1,500 to Republican Sen. Richard Burr’s campaign committee?

Maybe it was thanks for Burr’s leadership in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russia probe. Maybe it was some other issue where liberals backed the senator.

Turns out the answer is much simpler — a mistake.

The donation actually came from a political action committee for KFC franchisees and appears to be improperly listed on the Federal Elections Commission website.

Yes, even the owners of fried chicken restaurants have a political action committee.

The Association of KFC Franchisees donated $178,000 to federal candidates and committees during the 2016 election cycle and has donated more more than $102,000 already in the 2018 cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. The association was formed in 1974.

The mistake was not made by the Burr campaign. It could have been a coding error or a problem with the commission’s new website, according to the FEC.

Senate candidates, unlike everyone else who must file campaign finance documents with the FEC, are not required to file electronically. That means they file on paper and coders enter the info into the commission’s electronic database.

Given the sheer volume of reports, mistakes happen.

“I wouldn’t say it’s common, but it’s not uncommon,” FEC spokesman Christian Hilland said of a possible coding error.

The FEC’s top legislative recommendation to President Donald Trump and Congress is the electronic filing of Senate reports. The FEC has been asking for the change since 2000.

The FEC said the lack of electronic filing by Senate campaigns costs the U.S. taxpayers almost $900,000 a year, according to FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub.

Burr, who won re-election in 2016, said he would not seek another term in 2022. His campaign committee generated more than $42,800 in contributions in 2017, most of it from other committees.

Brian Murphy: 202-383-6089, @MurphinDC

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