A conservative government watchdog group has filed a formal complaint alleging that Sen. Claire McCaskill violated federal campaign finance laws to beat her 2012 Republican opponent, Todd Akin.
The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust submitted the complaint to the Federal Election Commission on Thursday, saying that the Missouri Democrat admitted in her new book, "Plenty Ladylike," that her campaign spent $40,000 polling Republicans and then shared the results with the Akin campaign, CNN reported.
"Senator McCaskill did not simply meddle in another party's primary, rather she crossed the legal line and made a prohibited donation in violation of federal law," the group's executive director, Matthew Whitaker, said.
McCaskill's goal, the complaint alleged, was to help Akin win the Republican primary because she believed she could beat him in the general election. But federal election laws address such "in kind" donations and limit them to $2,500.
"By providing polling data and information, Senator McCaskill made an in-kind donation to a candidate that appears to be in violation of federal law," Whitaker said in the complaint.
McCaskill's aides denied the allegations and called them "just silly."
"If there was something to hide, I'm pretty sure that it would not have been included in the book," McCaskill spokesman John LaBombard told CNN.
McCaskill's Senate seat was considered to be in jeopardy in the run-up to her 2012 re-election. She was neck and neck with Akin in most polls until the Republican made his now-infamous comment about women being able to "shut that whole thing down" and not get pregnant if they are raped.
Follow Jon Street (@JonStreet) on Twitter