A Democratic group has accused Donald Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor, Steve Bannon, of receiving illegal payments from a super PAC during the presidential campaign.
The Democratic Coalition Against Trump has reported Bannon to the FBI, claiming that he broke campaign finance laws when the pro-Trump super PAC Make America Number 1 paid $950,090 to Bannon’s company, Glittering Steel LLC, according to PoliticusUSA.com.
An FEC filing was brought to the public’s attention on Monday by The Daily Beast, which reported that a complaint was made on Oct. 6 by the Campaign Legal Center to the Federal Election Commission stating that Republican donors Robert and Rebekah Mercer paid Bannon for his work on the Trump campaign.
Make America 1 rose from the ashes of the Ted Cruz super PAC Keep the Promise I after the Texas senator withdrew from the Republican primary in June, according to Newsweek. Bannon was named CEO of Trump’s campaign in August, a role for which he was not paid an official salary, according to FEC filings.
However, the latest filings obtained by the Campaign Legal Center cover the weeks up until Nov. 5, and they show that the Mercers-funded super PAC paid Glittering Steel $187,500 during that time. According to the Daily Beast, among the payments were five checks issued from Oct. 1 to Nov. 5: one for $40,500, one for $50,000, one for $37,500, one for $34,500, and one for $25,000. The full list of alleged payments can be vieweed here, according to the watchdog group.
“It is against campaign finance law for super PACs to directly coordinate with the campaigns they support, so Bannon’s role as both an employee of the super PAC and campaign CEO would have broken the law,” the complaint states.
“Additionally, there is a 120-day ‘cooling off’ period for employees once they leave a super PAC to join a campaign to help avoid coordination, which Bannon would have violated when he became Trump’s campaign CEO just 9 days after being paid by Make America Number 1.”
Last week, Make America Number 1 spokesperson Kristina Hernandez told The Daily Beast that the PAC’s lawyers will resolve the FEC’s queries. TheWrap attempted to reach the PAC’s communications director for comment. A representative for the Trump campaign and Steve Bannon did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
Glittering Steel is credited on the 2016 movie “Clinton Cash,” which criticized Hillary Clinton and the charitable foundation she head with husband and former president Bill Clinton.
Read the full complaint below.
The Democratic Coalition Against Trump reported Steve Bannon to the FBI on Tuesday morning after learning that he likely broke campaign finance laws during his time as CEO for the Trump campaign. According to FEC records, $950,090 was paid to Bannon’s company, Glittering Steel LLC, over the course of the campaign by pro-Trump super PAC, Make America Number 1. The super PAC is mainly backed by Robert and Rebekah Mercer, and Rebekah was recently named to Trump’s transition team. The most recent payment made to Glittering Steel LLC was on November 5, 2016, and a full list of the expenditures made by the PAC to Bannon’s company can be found here. Before Bannon became Trump campaign CEO in August of this year, Glittering Steel LLC was reported to the FEC at Breitbart’s address in Beverly Hills, CA. Right after Bannon became CEO, however, Glittering Steel LLC was exclusively reported to the FEC at an address in Arlington, VA.
It is against campaign finance law for super PACs to directly coordinate with the campaigns they support, so Bannon’s role as both an employee of the super PAC and campaign CEO would have broken the law. Additionally, there is a 120-day “cooling off” period for employees once they leave a super PAC to join a campaign to help avoid coordination, which Bannon would have violated when he became Trump’s campaign CEO just 9 days after being paid by Make America Number 1. The FBI’s public corruption unit has jurisdiction to investigate campaign finance crimes, and in 2015 a campaign worker was sentenced to 2 years in prison for his role in illegal coordination between a campaign and a Super PAC.