A pro-Trump political group has agreed to pay $25,000 to settle allegations that it illegally solicited $2 million from journalists as middlemen for a Chinese national.
why it matters: A key player in the plan, a veteran Republican operative, is facing criminal charges for allegedly funneling thousands of dollars in foreign cash into Trump’s re-election effort, the latest in an emerging pattern of conduct. making news.
What’s new: Great America PAC, a Hybrid Super PAC, reached an agreement with the Federal Election Commission To resolve the recent allegations in June, according to a copy of the reconciliation agreement released this week.
- The $25,000 civil penalty stemmed from a covert investigation by the British Wire Newspaper at the end of 2016.
- Reporters contacted PAC principal Eric Beach, posing as a representative of a Chinese citizen who wanted to donate to Great America.
- Beach worked with GOP operator Jesse Benton to develop methods to conceal the source of the funding, including funneling the money through a “black money” nonprofit or Benton’s consulting firm.
Great America PAC was one of the largest Pro-Trump independent spending groups in the country.
- This Reported Expenses oppose or support more than $9 million federal political candidates in the 2020 cycle, and over $23 million during the 2016 cycle.
Between the lines: Benton, a former senior aide to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, is also facing criminal charges for his alleged role in a plan to funnel money from a Russian citizen to Trump’s fundraising committee last year.
What are they saying: “Benton’s conduct was abusive, seditious and clearly illegal,” three of the FEC’s six commissioners wrote in a Joint Statement on the Great America PAC Agreement.
- The commission nonetheless stymied to further investigate Benton’s conduct.
- The three commissioners wrote, “It is unfortunate, to put it mildly, that the commission failed to hold Benton accountable for his actions.”