Watchdog Says Democrats Illegally Paid Foreign National For Campaign Work

Arizona-based firm run by foreign national has been paid nearly $1 million for political work in recent years
US Representative Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) / AFP via Getty Images)

A Democratic congressman and major Democratic campaign committee together paid a firm run by a foreign national more than $700,000 for campaign work, a blatant violation of federal election law, according to a watchdog complaint.

Both Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee have paid for the services of La Machine, an Arizona-based firm run by Antonio Valdovinos, who regularly touts his status as a foreign national living in the United States thanks to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. But despite laws in place forbidding foreign nationals from working on U.S. political campaigns or even contributing money to them, Valdovinos has done both, according to a complaint from the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT).

“Foreign nationals are barred from contributing in any substantive way, both financially or strategically, and given the facts here this is precisely what appears to have happened — repeatedly,” said Kendra Arnold, the watchdog group’s executive director. “The monetary political donations made by Mr. Valdovinos would be egregious violations in and of themselves, and the fact he literally created a political consulting firm with a significant client list and billings is truly beyond the pale.”

The complaint to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), obtained exclusively by The Daily Wire, lays out massive payments to Valdovinos’ firm, as well as several political donations from Valdovinos to federal candidates.

The firm, La Machine, was paid handsomely by the DSCC, earning $710,000 for “voter canvassing” in the final three months of 2022, according to campaign finance disclosures. The campaign committee for Ruben Gallego, Gallego For Arizona, has separately paid La Machine $211,587.66 for services including petition gathering and consulting services. The firm’s website lists Gallego, as well as his wife and other Arizona Democrats, as its clients.

Valdovinos also made at least seventeen contributions to federal candidates beginning in 2019 and as recently as 2022, the disclosures show, all of which the complaint states are illegal.

Neither Valdovinos, Gallego, nor the DSCC responded to a request for comment.

Valdovinos’s relationship with Gallego, as well as his immigration status, is no secret. The foreign national was Gallego’s guest at the 2018 State of the Union address due to his status as a so-called “Dreamer.”

“Like so many Dreamers, Antonio is a patriotic young man who is working hard and contributing to our community,” Gallego said at the time. “And like hundreds of thousands of Dreamers across this country, his life was placed in limbo when Donald Trump made the cruel and callous decision to end the DACA program.”

There was even an off-Broadway musical made about Valdovinos and his political work called, ¡Americano! Because We’re All Dreamers. Valdovinos was involved as the show’s producer, according to a Forbes interview.

Federal courts have consistently ruled that the DACA program is illegal, including as recently as this month. There is also precedent from the Federal Election Commission on cases similar to Valdovinos’ where they ruled that the so-called Dreamers are indeed barred from political activity.

In 2019 after a complaint was filed regarding foreign nationals working for Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, the defendants attempted to argue that “DACA recipients are in a special category of foreign nationals for which the foreign national prohibition is of far less concern, and that enforcing it against them would violate their First Amendment rights.”

The FEC, however, ruled otherwise and stated that DACA recipients are in fact foreign nationals. “DACA status does not confer citizenship, lawful permanent residence, or any other immigration status,” the FEC wrote in its ruling. “Thus, at the time of their employment by the [Bernie Sanders campaign], the [three DACA recipients] were foreign nationals under the Act.”

FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub stated in 2019 that the caselaw was clear on the topic of foreign nationals involving themselves in U.S. politics.

“Let me make something 100% clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election,” Weintraub said. “This is not a novel concept.”

“Anyone who solicits or accepts foreign assistance risks being on the wrong end of a federal investigation. Any political campaign that receives an offer of a prohibited donation from a foreign source should report that offer to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Watchdog Says Democrats Illegally Paid Foreign National For Campaign Work