'Legalized money laundering': Trump group's 'joint fundraising practices' with state GOPs draws FEC scrutiny

'Legalized money laundering': Trump group's 'joint fundraising practices' with state GOPs draws FEC scrutiny

In the United States, the Federal Election Commission has rules governing shared fundraising practices. Journalist Roger Sollenberger, in an article published by the Daily Beast on June 9, takes a look at some of the joint fundraising within the Republican Party that occurred during the 2020 election — and notes some of the possible FEC problems involved.

"Months after the Federal Election Commission notified several GOP state parties of major gaps in their 2020 fundraising and spending reports, the committees are correcting their numbers — but they still can't explain why the discrepancies occurred," Sollenberger explains. "The issue has raised new questions about possible abuse of a longstanding campaign finance loophole that allows wealthy megadonors to cut massive checks. Last year, a number of Republican state parties failed to disclose transfers in the hundreds of thousands — sometimes millions — of dollars, which violates reporting requirements."

Paul S. Ryan, who serves as vice president of policy and litigation at Common Cause and shouldn't be confused with former House Speaker Paul Ryan, discussed this situation with the Beast — saying, "There are layers of problems here, but the basic question is whether the state parties complied with federal disclosure requirements."

The FEC, according to Sollenberger, has "so far sent notices to ten of those 46 state parties that failed to report high-dollar same-day transfers from joint fundraising committees and to the RNC."

One of 2020's Republican joint fundraising operations was Trump Victory, which brought together former President Donald Trump's 2020 campaign, the Republican National Committee and over ten Republican state committees.

Sollenberger notes, "(The) Hawaii (GOP) didn't announce its role in Trump Victory until this February. Four days later, the committee revealed nearly $1.7 million in transfers, claiming it missed the transactions 'due to a misunderstanding regarding the reporting requirements'…. Last month, the Arkansas GOP disclosed a whopping $3.5 million in transfers with Trump Victory, a group it has never officially joined, according to FEC records."

The Beast reporter goes on to explain how joint fundraising operates.

"Joint fundraising arrangements are complicated, but carry major financial benefits," Sollenberger writes. "Here's how it works. Joint fundraising committees open a back door, allowing national parties to raise more money from megadonors than the law otherwise permits. Because Trump Victory has 48 members, one person can cut a single check equal to the combined contribution limits of all four dozen committees. Trump Victory then distributes that money to the other committees."

Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center, is highly critical of joint fundraising practices. Fischer told the Beast, "These joint fundraising practices amount to little more than legalized money laundering, and allow wealthy donors to sidestep contribution limits and write six-figure checks for the benefit of presidential candidates and the national parties."

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