Super PAC President Sentenced for Dark Money Scheme

August 26, 2022 by Dan McCue
Super PAC President Sentenced for Dark Money Scheme
(Photo via Pixabay)

WASHINGTON — The president and treasurer of a super PAC active in a Puerto Rican election in 2020 was sentenced today to 14 months in prison for scheming to lie to the Federal Election Commission about the true identities of donors.

Joseph Fuentes-Fernandez, 62, of Arlington, Virginia, admitted to the scheme as part of a plea bargain.

The super PAC he started, Salvemos a Puerto Rico, was ordered to pay a $150,000 fine and to serve three years of probation.

According to the Justice Department, Fuentes-Fernandez raised funds to support the 2020 election campaign of someone identified in court records as “Public Official-1,” who was then a candidate for office in the executive branch of the government of Puerto Rico. 


Soon after Salvemos a Puerto Rico was organized, Fuentes and others also formed two shell § 501(c)(4) nonprofit social welfare organizations. 


These two § 501(c)(4) entities were registered within seven minutes of each other, listed the same mailing address, and shared some of the same officers.

Fuentes further admitted that he and others solicited hundreds of thousands of dollars of donations to the two shell nonprofit entities, which rapidly sent most of those funds to Salvemos a Puerto Rico.

Fuentes and Salvemos a Puerto Rico then reported to the FEC that the nonprofit entities were the donors of those funds, rather than reporting the true source of the funds. 

The purpose of routing these donor funds through the nonprofit entities was exclusively to conceal the true identities of the donors to Salvemos a Puerto Rico. 


By ensuring that many of the true donors to Salvemos a Puerto Rico remained anonymous, the department said, Fuentes and Salvemos a Puerto Rico deprived the people of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the FEC of information about the true source of hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing into Puerto Rico’s political system.

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and @DanMcCue

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