Campaign Watchdog Accuses Trump Re-Election Campaign of Laundering $170 Million

July 29, 2020 by Dan McCue
President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday, June 20, 2020. (Win McNamee/AFP/Getty Images/TNS)

WASHINGTON – President Trump’s re-election campaign allegedly laundered $170 million in spending to conceal payments made to Trump family associates and people working with the campaign, a non-partisan campaign watchdog claims.

In an 81-page complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday, the Campaign Legal Center alleges former Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale used a pass-through company — American Made Media Consultants (AMMC) — to pay downstream vendors, including Trump campaign members, associates and family members.

“Ultimately, this hid millions in payments to companies engaged in significant work for the campaign, as well as payments to Trump family members or associates like Lara Trump and Kimberly Guilfoyle,” the Campaign Legal Center said.

According to the complaint, within a month of AMMC’s formation, the Trump campaign began reporting sizable payments to it and it soon became the Trump campaign’s largest vendor.

“Since 2019, the Trump campaign has reported paying $106 million to AMMC for an array of general purposes, including placed media, consulting, online advertising, SMS advertising, and more; the Trump Make America Great Again Committee has reported over $61 million in payments to AMMC, largely for online advertising,” the complaint says.

“Available evidence indicates that AMMC is not directly providing those services to the Trump campaign, but instead is acting as a ‘clearinghouse’ that disburses Trump campaign funds to other vendors, ‘effectively shielding the identities of the underlying contractors being paid for Trump campaign work,'” the complaint alleges.

“In several instances, Trump campaign officials and public reports have described other firms as major contractors providing services to the Trump campaign, yet those contractors’ names do not appear on the Trump campaign’s reports filed with the Commission; instead, it appears that the Trump campaign reports payments to AMMC, which then passes on the funds to the intended payees,” the complaint says.

The Center asserts that by “failing to report payments to the campaign’s true vendors and employees, the Trump campaign and Trump Make America Great Again Committee have violated, and continue to violate, federal law’s transparency requirements and undermine the vital public information role that reporting is intended to serve.

“The campaign’s failure to itemize disbursements to its ultimate vendors means that the public is left in the dark about the entities working for the Trump campaign, the nature of their services, and the full amount they are paid,” it says. “Such secrecy undermines enforcement of other FECA provisions, such as the ban on campaigns converting funds to personal use and limitations on coordination between campaigns and outside groups via common vendors.”

According to the center, the alleged “secrecy schemes” the Trump campaign is involved in “deprive contributors of an opportunity to monitor the campaign’s stewardship of funds. And they deny voters their informational interest in knowing ‘where political campaign money comes from and how it is spent,’ so that they may ‘make informed decisions.’”

Contacted by The Well News Tuesday night, the Trump campaign denied the Center’s allegations.

“AMMC is a campaign vendor responsible for arranging and executing media buys and related services at fair market value,” said Tim Murtaugh, Trump 2020 communications director.

“AMMC does not earn any commissions or fees. 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 AMMC as required by the FEC. The campaign complies with all campaign finance laws and FEC regulations,” Murtaugh said.

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