The Federal Election Commission, the government entity that oversees the campaign finance process, may be looking into Donald Trump and an affiliated political action committee used for the 2020 recount effort.
The FEC could be investigating a company that raked in and spent millions of dollars for services rendered after the 2020 presidential election that Donald Trump disputed.
What Is the Issue?
The document request was denied by the FEC.
A Donald Trump PAC Could Be Part of an Enforcement Operation By the FEC
The campaign watchdog said in the FOIA rejection letter obtained by the Daily Beast, “To the extent that the records you requested concern an ongoing FEC enforcement matter, we can neither confirm nor deny that any such records exist.”
The Daily Beast seized on the words “an ongoing FEC enforcement matter,” to make the conclusion that Trump’s recount campaign engaged in wrongful and potentially illegal activity that is being investigated by the FEC.
This saga started when Donald Trump raised tens of millions of dollars for his recount effort that involved a third-party consulting company.
The problem arouse when the firm spent substantial funds on activities that had nothing to do with the recount.
Here’s the chain of events. First, the Make American Great Again Political Action Committee (MAGA PAC) was formed.
Next, the campaign fund was converted into the MAGA PAC.
Then the MAGA PAC spent millions on a company called 2M Document and Imaging, LLC.
At that point, 2M billed the MAGA PAC $6.2 million spread over 40 payments, according to the Daily Beast. This comes from the total $29.6 million that MAGA PAC raised and spent from 2021 to 2022.
But the Vendor Was More Concerned With Document Prep
The Daily Beast asserted that 2M Document and Imaging’s primary function was to prepare documents for investigation subpoenas that the Donald Trump campaign was involved in, not for the recount operation.
But even if there is an ongoing enforcement matter about this activity being conducted by the FEC, it may not be illegal as “recount” funding is not a large area where there are strict regulations that govern it.
Attorney Says Not So Fast
Daniel I. Weiner, who has served as a lawyer for the FEC and is now at the Brennan Center, poured cold water on the illegality theory concerning MAGA PAC payments to 2M.
“Readers shouldn’t get excited” that this activity is illegal, Weiner said. “The FEC could be indicating one of many different scenarios.” The FEC opens up investigative inquiries into a diverse range of complaints, he added.
Follow the Money
It still calls into question the activities of 2M allegedly running document productions for unrelated investigations that was paid for by recount funding. People who gave money thinking that Trump would use it for the recount operation would likely be disappointed to learn that their funds were going to different efforts.
At Least One Other Campaign Engages In This Activity
Other candidates have used recount funds. Hershel Walker’s campaign for U.S. Senate in Georgia transferred money from the main campaign account to a recount fund. No recount was necessary in Georgia as Walker lost to Senator Raphael Warnock.
Change the Rules
The FEC may want to clarify and beef up its guidelines and rules about recount funds being abused. Weiner said this area is the “wild wild west of campaign finance.”
Media organizations like the Daily Beast are always looking for the legal torpedo that can sink Trump. But Daily Beast reporters do bring up a campaign activity that is questionable. People who donate to a recount fund want their money going to the recount, and not spent on document processing. The FEC should put out new guidance that this alleged activity is improper and should be minimized.
Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.