31 Jul 2020
President Donald Trump’s reelection effort allegedly hid nearly $170 million in spending from mandatory public disclosure by routing payments through companies tied to his former campaign manager, a government oversight group said Tuesday.
The use of firms linked to former campaign manager Brad Parscale masked the ultimate recipients of the money, which the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center described as a “laundering” effort that violates election law, according to a complaint the group filed with the Federal Elections Commission.
Trump communications director Tim Murtaugh disputed the allegations and said the “campaign complies with all campaign finance laws and FEC regulations.”
Most of the payments by Trump’s campaign committees were made to American Made Media Consultants, which has received at least $177 million since 2018, according to FEC records. The other firm, Parscale Strategy, has collected at least $32 million during that period, the records show.
The campaign said that American Made Media Consultants was formed to purchase advertising directly — and save money by not relying on middlemen. But records show the company instead acted as a clearinghouse for spending, while still using third party vendors, which it was ostensibly created to avoid, the complaint states.
In at least two cases, outside firms owned by Trump’s digital director Gary Coby appeared to have been the firm tapped to make purchases or develop digital communication products, though there is no record of payments made to Coby in Trump’s campaign finance disclosures, according to the complaint.
Meanwhile, Parscale Strategy has been used to pay the salaries of some Trump reelection officials, including Lara Trump, the wife of Trump’s son Eric, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Trump’s eldest son, Don Jr., the complaint states.
By Brian Slodysko, AP, 29 July 2020
Read more by the Associated Press via NBC News
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