Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Trump Apparently Soliciting Foreign Cash Despite Warnings

Trump’s Campaign appears to be soliciting foreign donations despite multiple warnings and a criminal complaint filed with the Department of Justice.

On Sunday, an Australian member of Parliament, Terri Butler, emailed the latest fundraising solicitation she’d received from the Trump campaign.

The email, received on August 14 just after midnight Australian time, went to Butler’s Government email account. It asked her to make a campaign contribution to Trump so she could “join the highest ranks of our campaign as an Executive Member.”

Butler said she has received several fundraising solicitations from the Trump campaign at her Government email account.

Butler is hardly the first foreign official to receive solicitations from the Trump campaign. Members of the U.K. Parliament, Peter Bottomley and Bob Blackman, have said that they've received numerous fundraising appeals on the Republican’s behalf.

Asked why the Trump campaign whether it was continuing to solicit foreign donations, particularly the latest email to Butler, a Trump official said, “the person received one email because they signed up for our system. It was flagged by the system and removed."

Campaigns typically purchase email lists from trusted vendors, and care is taken to minimize the risk of illegal solicitation. Such care is taken because the law on foreign donations is black and white.

It’s illegal for foreign individuals, Corporations and Governments to give money directly to U.S. candidates or to spend on advertising to influence U.S. elections. It’s also illegal for U.S. candidates to solicit foreign money.

A source involved in online fundraising who is not affiliated with a Presidential candidate said campaigns typically use what are known as "suppression programs" to ensure their fundraising lists don't contain email addresses that are likely to result in illegal solicitations.

No evidence has surfaced of foreign money being given to Trump, but experts say the campaign is flouting the law by soliciting foreign donations nearly two months after first being warned about the practice.

“The Trump campaign’s continuing solicitation of campaign contributions from people who are obviously foreign nationals is clearly illegal,” said Larry Noble, the General Counsel for the non-partisan watchdog the Campaign Legal Center. “Given the news reports, the complaint we filed with the FEC and the letter we sent to the Department of Justice asking for a criminal investigation, his refusal to put a stop to the solicitations is compelling evidence of the campaign’s flagrant disregard for the law.”

Butler says she never signed up to any Trump list and has no idea why she’s being solicited by the Campaign, given that her foreign Government email address appears easy to identify.

“Hi @realDonaldTrump can you take me off your email list please?” Butler tweeted on Monday.

Asked to explain why Foreign Donations were still being solicited despite numerous warnings, the Trump official blamed “scammers.” “We routinely check for foreign nationals,” the Trump official said on Monday. “However, we’ve seen sometimes that scammers will continue to try to add them to our system.”

The Campaign Legal Center and another non-partisan Campaign Finance watchdog, Democracy 21, sent a criminal complaint to the Department of Justice after News outlets revealed that the Trump campaign had not heeded the watchdogs’ first complaint, filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on June 29.

“To protect the interests of those involved in a complaint, the law requires that any Commission action on an enforcement matter be kept strictly confidential until the case is resolved,” said FEC spokesman Christian Hilland.

Fred Wertheimer, the President of Democracy 21, said the Trump Campaign’s Foreign Solicitations are unlike anything he’s seen in the 40 years that he’s monitored campaign finance. “It’s inexplicable and impossible to understand why the Trump campaign appears to still be illegally soliciting foreign donations after they have been put on notice numerous times that this is illegal,” Wertheimer said on Monday. “There is no ambiguity about the fact that these solicitations are illegal.”

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