Trump Prevails, Hillary Clinton Loses in Election Spending Cases

Former President Donald Trump gets another win.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) made the decision not to take any action against the former president after those who sit on the commission deadlocked over whether his campaign broke the law.

The focus of the investigation was masking how they were spending their cash during the 2020 campaign. 

The FEC notified the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit group that made the complaint against Trump’s campaign, on Monday and gave them their decision.

They had accused the campaign of “laundering” hundreds of millions in spending by sidestepping mandatory public disclosure and moving payments through companies that were connected to Brad Parscale, a former campaign manager. 

Deadlocked

The FEC is evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans and even though the practice that was alleged against Trump is considered to be against the law, the commission has been deadlocked in its decisions in recent years.

Because of this gray area, there have been new precedents set that have diminished the law governing how money can be spent in national politics.

The FEC has not given a clear legal position to their decisions. 

According to Adav Noti, a former FEC attorney and now the Campaign Legal Center’s vice president and legal director, legal reasoning won’t be released for several weeks. They released the notification of deadlock because an appeal that would hinge on other details could be made. 

So Trump gets the win in this case but in March Hillary Clinton got a loss.

A similar case was brought to the FEC and they found probable cause that Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, along with the whole Democratic National Committee, violated campaign law through misreporting spending on research.

This action eventually led to the Steele Dossier which created havoc politically. 

The DNC and the Clinton campaign agreed to pay $113,000 to settle the case. They did not concede that they violated the law, but they did not want to face further legal costs. 

In Trump’s 2020 campaign, there were payments made by the campaign committees to American Made Media Consultants.

The company received approximately $780 million between 2018 and 2021, according to FEC records. Another company, Parscale Strategy, received at least $32 million in that same period, according to the records. 

Trump’s campaign indicated that American Made Media Consultants was formed so that they could buy advertising directly and save money by not having to have a go-between.

Practically, the company could act as a clearinghouse and they could still use third-party vendors. The complaint maintained that’s what the company was created to avoid. 

Massive penalties

Those making the complaint noted that there were at least two times where outside companies owned by Gary Coby, Trump’s digital director, were given money to make purchases or develop digital communication products.

But there is no record of payments made to Gary Coby in Trump’s campaign finance disclosures. And the complaint also focused on the fact that the Parscale Strategy was directed to pay the salaries of several of the reelection officials in Trump’s campaign.

These officials included Lara Trump, the wife of Trump’s son Eric, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the fiancee of Trump’s oldest son Don Jr.

The FEC Commissioner is Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat and the longest-tenured member of the panel. Weintraub told the media that she voted to find a reason to believe the Trump campaign and its associates violated federal law. 

This case could have resulted in massive penalties for Trump.

Rep. Mark Pocan, a Democrat from Wisconsin, estimated that the penalties could have been in the hundreds of millions. There is still a possibility that the FBI will get involved.

But for now, it’s a win for Trump.

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