Thursday, June 11, 2015

Former Knox politico Tyler Harber seeks reduction in conviction

A former Knox County politico who went on to work on the national political stage faces federal sentencing Friday in a unique case.

Tyler Harber, 34, would be the first person in the United States prosecuted for illegally coordinating federal election contributions, according to the government.

Harber, an aide in the mid 2000s to Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale, admitted in February in U.S. District Court in Virginia that he secretly used more than $300,000 from a Super PAC he helped set up to benefit the campaign of a Virginia Republican congressional candidate he was managing in 2012.

The former Tennessean, who left Ragsdale's administration in 2005 amid accusations of engaging in local political dirty tricks, also admitted lying to the FBI about what he was doing.

Federal law bans anyone from coordinating Super PAC money with political candidates and campaigns.

He also has admitted using $138,000 in National Republican Victory Fund money for his own benefit and that of his family, documents show.

According to the government, Harber used his wife and mother in trying to carry out the scheme.

Political journal "Campaigns & Elections" once called Harber a "rising star" in American politics.

They've since renounced him.

Federal prosecutors are urging U.S. District Judge Liam O'Grady of the Eastern District of Virginia to acknowledge the importance of setting a precedent in punishing Harber, who they characterize as "an intelligent and careful man with significant experience in politics and campaign finance."

"He knew exactly what he was doing and exactly the best way to conceal it from his party and from law enforcement," Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark D. Lytle writes in his sentencing memo.

"He is, in short, the most dangerous sort of political operative by virtue of his knowledge and experience, and he employed both to successfully complete the crimes he intended."

Rest of story RIGHT HERE.

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