A Republican consultant who worked on two of U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin’s campaigns in 2010 and 2012 is the first person to be prosecuted by the federal government for illegally coordinating campaign contributions between political committees.

Last month, Tyler E. Harber, 34, of Alexandria, Va., pleaded guilty in a Virginia federal court to coordinating hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions between a political action committee and a U.S. House of Representatives candidate from Virginia that he began working for in September 2012.

Earlier that year, he was a consultant for Poliquin, whose U.S. Senate bid ended after a June primary loss to Republican Charlie Summers, who lost the general election to U.S. Sen. Angus King, an independent.

Harber was not involved in Poliquin’s successful 2014 campaign for Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, which was managed by Matthew Hutson, who is now Poliquin’s chief of staff.

Hutson, who worked with Harber on Poliquin’s 2012 campaign, said Monday that Harber’s role in that campaign was “very, very, very limited,” and that Poliquin met Harber ahead of his 2010 gubernatorial run at a national Republican candidate training event that the consultant spoke at.

Anthony Corrado, a government professor at Colby College in Waterville, called Harber’s prosecution “a major step by the Justice Department to show their willingness to enforce some of these rules on coordination.” But he called Harber just “one of the many consultants” working in both parties, and he said the prosecution shouldn’t have an impact on Poliquin.


“I don’t think it really reflects on his judgment or his campaign,” Corrado said.

Poliquin isn’t mentioned in the court documents, which say while Harber was working on the Virginia candidate’s campaign, a super PAC he directed spent $325,000 to advertise against U.S. Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Virginia, who won the race against Harber’s candidate, Republican Chris Perkins. A review of campaign finance records shows that those ads were likely produced by Jamestown Associates, a New Jersey consulting firm.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in a statement that Harber’s prosecution is the first of its kind in the nation. After a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision, super PACs were allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money for or against candidates, but they aren’t allowed to coordinate those expenditures with campaigns or give money to campaigns directly.

Harber often was a spokesman for Poliquin’s 2012 campaign, and Hutson said that would be the “most apt description” of his role. Campaign finance records don’t show any payment made to Harber directly, but Poliquin’s campaign paid more than $146,000 to Jamestown Associates for media and advertising.

In 2010, Harber also worked for Poliquin’s run for Maine governor, which ended when he finished sixth in a seven-person race won by Gov. Paul LePage. State campaign finance records show that the campaign paid nearly $40,000 to Wilson Research Strategies, Inc., a Washington, D.C., firm that Harber once worked for.

In the Virginia case, documents say Harber solicited donations to the political action committee while saying that only 2 percent of contributions would be used for administrative costs. However, he and his wife submitted invoices that falsely claimed that a company owned by his mother provided services to the committee.


In all, court documents say Harber transferred $138,000 to that company. Of that, $118,000 was transferred to a company owned by Harber, which he transferred to his personal use, while his mother used $20,000 as a down payment for real estate.

Documents say that Harber also made false statements to FBI agents investigating him. Eventually, he admitted to using an alias to conceal his actions after being confronted by a Republican official.

Harber has signed a plea agreement in the case, which promises that Harber’s mother and wife will not be prosecuted for their actions. A sentencing hearing is set for June.

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652

[email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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