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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Watchdog Group Accuses Trump Campaign of Concealing $7.2 Million in Legal Fees

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) found itself at the center of controversy as a campaign watchdog group, the Campaign Legal Center, filed a formal complaint on Wednesday. The complaint targets Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign and associated political committees, alleging the concealment of $7.2 million in legal fees by channeling payments through an unrelated shell company, thus violating campaign finance laws.

Red Curve, the company in question, has drawn scrutiny due to its receipt of the aforementioned payments. Notably, Red Curve is overseen by Bradley Crate, who holds the position of treasurer for the Trump campaign and four affiliated political committees, in addition to serving numerous other candidates and committees.

The Campaign Legal Center asserts that the Trump political committees utilized Red Curve, a company seemingly unrelated to legal services, as a conduit to obscure payments for legal assistance. This accusation comes hot on the heels of an article published by The Daily Beast, shedding light on the payments to Red Curve. Despite these revelations, neither Red Curve nor representatives of the Trump campaign have issued any comment on the matter.

The complaint from the Campaign Legal Center underscores that such a payment scheme violates the reporting requirements mandated by the Federal Election Campaign Act. According to this act, committees are obligated to furnish detailed information regarding the recipients of their payments and the amounts disbursed for the services rendered.

Furthermore, the complaint highlights that Red Curve advanced payments for legal costs to the Trump committees, potentially running afoul of campaign finance laws prohibiting corporations from contributing funds to political candidates. Saurav Ghosh, the director of federal campaign finance reform at the Campaign Legal Center, emphasized the gravity of the situation, stating that Red Curve’s actions essentially constitute an unlawful contribution. He elaborated on the potential legal implications, indicating that such contributions may exceed the permissible limits stipulated by federal law.

The magnitude of legal expenses incurred by Mr. Trump since leaving office in 2021 is staggering, exceeding $100 million. Remarkably, these costs have been predominantly covered by political donations. Red Curve emerges as the primary beneficiary of these payments, having received $7.2 million, as per records submitted to the FEC.

In a separate development on the same day, the FEC imposed a fine of $6,075 on a pro-Trump super PAC, Make America Great Again, Again, following a negotiated settlement. The fine was levied for the super PAC’s failure to disclose $150,600 in in-kind contributions in a quarterly report from April 2022. This super PAC, once a prominent fundraising entity for Mr. Trump, came under scrutiny last year for an unusual payment of $155,000 to Melania Trump for a speaking engagement. The Trump campaign declined to provide any response to inquiries regarding the fine.

The complaint lodged by the Campaign Legal Center regarding Red Curve draws parallels to past violations of campaign finance law. Reference is made to the use of a law firm by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee in 2016. Payments were made to the firm Fusion GPS for research aimed at discrediting Mr. Trump, ultimately contributing to the infamous Steele dossier. In a similar vein, the lack of transparency surrounding payments and their intended purposes led to fines totaling $113,000 for the Clinton campaign and the DNC in a settlement with the FEC.

The case involving Red Curve underscores the critical importance of transparency and compliance with campaign finance laws in the realm of political fundraising and expenditure. As investigations unfold and legal proceedings progress, the FEC remains vigilant in upholding the integrity of the electoral process.

Jonathan James
Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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