As I reported here, the Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission last year alleging that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee violated campaign finance laws by not revealing their payments to Fusion GPS. In an October 25, 2017 filing with the FEC, the watchdog group accused the Hillary for America campaign and DNC of failing to “accurately disclose the purpose and recipient of payments for the dossier…effectively hiding these payments from public scrutiny.” The complaint was filed one day after the Washington Post confirmed that both entities paid Perkins Coie – a politically-connected law firm – to retain Fusion GPS to conduct opposition research on Donald Trump, which resulted in the infamous dossier.
According to the Center, the Clinton campaign and DNC paid Perkins Coie more than $12 million during the 2016 election cycle; all payments were recorded as “legal services.” No payments to Fusion GPS were itemized on disclosure reports by either group. Corey Goldstone, a spokesman for the Campaign Legal Center, told me via email that “normally, a campaign files a report with the FEC listing the people and companies it paid money to and what that money was for. The Clinton campaign and the DNC did not comply with their legal obligation to disclose their payments to Fusion for opposition research. Instead, they concealed the fact that any payments were made to Fusion at all.” Goldstone said the complaint is still pending at the FEC.
But the FEC could not confirm whether an investigation is being conducted: “A provision of federal campaign finance law requires that any Commission action on an enforcement matter be kept strictly confidential until the case is resolved,” FEC spokesman Christian Hilland told me via email this morning. (The commission’s complaint process is explained here.) If any action had been taken, the findings would be posted on the commission’s website; no investigation related to the Center’s complaint is currently listed.
Now Congress is stepping in. In a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray yesterday, several House Republicans asked the DOJ to investigate Hillary Clinton for federal campaign law violations, including accepting donations from a foreign national. “The Center believes that voters should have all financial information made available to them when casting a vote,” Goldstone told me. But that would have been problematic: If the Clinton campaign had listed Fusion on disclosure reports before Election Day, it would have raised plenty of questions about its ties to the dossier, which was already being circulated in the Washington media. Just another way the public has been duped about the legitimacy of the Steele dossier.
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