Following the bombshell revelation on Tuesday that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) funded the “Trump-Russia” dossier, a non-partisan group filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), saying that the Clinton campaign and the DNC broke campaign finance laws.
The Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the FEC on Wednesday stating that the Clinton campaign and the DNC violated campaign finance laws because they failed to “accurately disclose payments related to the so-called Trump Dossier,” Law Newz reported.
The Campaign Legal Center filed the complaint after The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that Mark Elias – a lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the DNC – hired Fusion GPS to conduct “research” on then-candidate Donald Trump.
Adav Noti, who previously served as the FEC’s Associate General Counsel for Policy, filed the complaint which Law Newz obtained:
- This complaint is filed pursuant to 52 U.S.C. § 30109(a)(1) and is based on information providing reason to believe that the Democratic National Committee (“DNC”)(C00010603) and Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaign committee Hillary for America (C00575795) have failed to file accurate reports, in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act (“FECA”), 52 U.S.C. § 30101, et seq., and Commission regulations.
- Specifically, the DNC and Hillary for American reported dozens of payments totaling millions of dollars to the law firm Perkins Coie with the purpose described as “Legal Services” or “Legal and Compliance Consulting,” when in reality, at least some of those payments were earmarked for the firm Fusion GPS, with the purpose of conducting opposition research on Donald Trump. By failing to file accurate reports, the DNC and Hillary for America undermined the vital public information role that reporting is intended to serve.
- “If the Commission, upon receiving a complaint . . . has reason to believe that a person has committed, or is about to commit, a violation of [FECA] . . . [t]he Commission shall make an investigation of such alleged violation. . . .” 52 U.S.C. § 30109(a)(2) (emphasis added); see also 11 C.F.R. § 111.4(a) (emphasis added).
Law Newz cited campaign legal experts as saying that it is illegal for a “campaign to pay a law firm who then hires other [firm] to perform campaign-related activities without reporting the purpose of the expenditures.”
Elias hired Fusion GPS to conduct “research” on Trump; Fusion GPS then hired former British spy Christopher Steele to conduct the research and compile the “Trump-Russia” dossier.
The complaint included a section from The Washington Post’s report noting the amount of money that the DNC and the Clinton campaign paid to Elias’ law firm — Perkins Coie:
The Clinton campaign paid Perkins Coie $5.6 million in legal fees from June 2015 to December 2016, according to campaign finance records, and the DNC paid the firm $3.6 million in “legal and compliance consulting’’ since November 2015 — though it’s impossible to tell from the filings how much of that work was for other legal matters and how much of it related to Fusion GPS.
The report from Law Newz also states that if the FEC finds that violations were made, then the DNC and the Clinton campaign could face fines — fines that will increase if it is determined that they intentionally misled the public.