Three former defense contractors are facing federal charges for illegal contributions to Susan Collins’ reelection campaign

Three former defense contractors are facing federal charges for illegal contributions to Susan Collins’ reelection campaign

On Thursday, February 10, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a press release announcing that three former defense contractors based in Hawaii had been indicted on federal charges for “allegedly making unlawful campaign contributions to a candidate for Congress and a political action committee.” The candidate, according to Gizmodo’s Matt Novak, was Sen. Susan Collins of Maine — and the political action committee was hers.

All three of the men indicted — Martin Kao, Clifford Chen and Lawrence “Kahele” Lum Kee — are Honolulu residents and “are charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States and to make conduit and government contractor contributions, making conduct contributions, and making government contractor contributions,” according to the DOJ’s February 10 press release.

“Kao is also charged with two counts of making false statements for causing the submission of false information to the Federal Election Committee,” the DOJ announced. “Kao, Chen and Lum Kee will make their initial appearance at a later date. If convicted, the defendants face up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.”

The following day, on February 11, Gizmodo’s Matt Novak noted that the defendants are accused of “donating money to Collins through a shell company called the Society of Young Women Scientists and Engineers.”

Novak reports, “The men allegedly used the shell company to donate $150,000 to a political action committee called 1820 PAC in 2019, according to the DOJ. And family members of the men were also used to help contribute tens of thousands of dollars to Sen. Collins, with the three executives reimbursing themselves through money that belonged to the Martin Defense Group.”

Novak notes that Kao, former CEO of Navatek, “was also charged, in late 2020, with fraudulently receiving too much money under the Paycheck Protection Program, set up in 2020 to assist private businesses at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Kao, who allegedly lied about the number of employees his company had to receive more funds, has pleaded not guilty to those charges,” Novak reports.

Collins was elected to a fifth term in the U.S. Senate when she defeated Maine House Speaker Sara Gideon by 8% in 2020. The Maine senator and moderate conservative was among the minority of Republicans who voted “guilty” in former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial in 2021.

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