The Campaign Legal Center (CLC), a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog group, has filed an official complaint with the Federal Election Commission that could, in retrospect, mean big trouble for the Trump campaign.
The CLC accused President Trump’s campaign of “laundering” tens of millions of dollars through companies, many which were connected to Trump’s recently ousted campaign manager Brad Parscale.
In the complaint, the CLC accuses the Trump campaign and another joint financing committee of illegally sending almost $170 million to firms without disclosing those expenses to the public.
One of the firms listed in the complaint is American Made Media Consultants, which was founded by Parscale.
American Made Media consultant is the largest of all the Trump campaign vendors. Parscale’s firm, Parscale Strategy, is also mentioned in the complaint.
The CLC alleges that Parscale, several Trump campaign lawyers, and the campaign itself illegally passed money through those companies and wanted to hide the details of the spending and where the funds ended up.
The complaint also names the Trump campaign’s mobile app, developed by the company Phunware. The complaint says there are no direct payments to Phunware listed in any campaign reports.
Campaign Legal Center founder and President Trevor Potter, a former Republican chair of the FEC, said,
“Voters have a right to know how campaigns are spending money to influence elections. This scheme flies in the face of transparency requirements mandated by federal law, and it leaves voters and donors in the dark about where the campaign’s funds are actually going.”
The Trump campaign responded against the allegations:
“[American Made Media Consultants] is a campaign vendor responsible for arranging and executing media buys and related services at fair market value. [American Made Media Consultants] does not earn any commissions or fees,” said campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh. “It builds efficiencies and saves the campaign money by providing these in-house services that otherwise would be done by outside vendors. The campaign reports all payments to [American Made Media Consultants] as required by the FEC. The campaign complies with all campaign finance laws and FEC regulations.”
Parscale is listed several times personally in the complaint as well as Parscale Strategy, which is on retainer for $48,000 a month for “consulting”.
The complaint shows reports that state that Parscale Strategy pays salaries to many Trump family members and close friends, such as Trump’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump, and Trump Jr.’s, girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle.
The complaint, however, is mostly honing in on the campaign itself and the joint fundraising committees.
Parscale, who has recently been replaced as campaign managers, made a statement to CNN about the matter: “This is just political theater …”
The Trump campaign and the Trump presidency was a hot bed of ethics violations and accusations of corruption and if these allegations are proven, it would land another serious blow to any political future he might have planned.
With three vacancies on the FEC, the group is left without a quorum, leaving it basically powerless. One possible solution, however, is that the CLC could bypass the FEC and take the allegations directly to the courts.
Potter maintains, however, that the complaint itself sends a message to the Trump campaign and puts them on “notice.”
Potter said, “We are hopeful the public attention the complaint receives forces the campaign to recognize that they are breaking the law and take corrective action.”