Earlier TFPP covered the Washington Post’s bombshell revelation that Hillary Clinton and the Democrat National Committee had put up a significant portion of the money for the infamous Fusion GPS dossier filed with ridiculous and implausible smears against now-President Donald Trump.
Now, the Washington Times reports that the nonprofit Campaign Legal Center has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission arguing that Hillary and the DNC keeping these payments a secret was a violation of federal campaign finance laws:
“By filing misleading reports, the DNC and Clinton campaign undermined the vital public information role of campaign disclosures,” said Adav Noti, senior director of trial litigation and strategy at CLC and a former FEC official. “Voters need campaign disclosure laws to be enforced so they can hold candidates accountable for how they raise and spend money. The FEC must investigate this apparent violation and take appropriate action” […]
“Questions about who paid for this dossier are the subject of intense public interest, and this is precisely the information that FEC reports are supposed to provide,” said Brendan Fischer, director of federal and FEC reform at CLC. “Payments by a campaign or party committee to an opposition research firm are legal, as long as those payments are accurately disclosed. But describing payments for opposition research as ‘legal services’ is entirely misleading and subverts the reporting requirements.”
Ace succinctly summarizes the Dems’ duplicity here:
Hillary and the DNC didn’t want to be tied to the FusionGPS, the smear firm.
So they had their lawyer pay them. Then no one can ask the lawyer about it, because he’ll claim — dubiously– that he has a “lawyer-client privilege” extending in both directions, from his client to the person he hired for his client.
Then in Hillary’s FEC filings, she lists her payments to the lawyer for “legal services,” omitting to note that those legal services including the not-at-all-legal-services of paying FusionGPS to dig up dirt.
Hot Air’s John Sexton digs into the legal complaint, and it doesn’t look good for Hillary. From the complaint:
The Commission has not always required committees to report the identity of subcontractors whom itemized contractors hire, as long as the stated purpose of the payment to the contractor reflected the “actual purpose” of the subsequent payment to the subcontractor, and the contractor receiving the disbursement has an “arms-length” relationship with the committee making the disbursement. See Advisory Opinion 1983-25 (Mondale) at 3. That is not the case here. The stated purpose of the disbursements to Perkins Coie (“Legal Services” or “Legal and Compliance Consulting”) did not reflect the “actual purpose” of how the disbursement was intended to be used in hiring Fusion GPS as a subcontractor. Additionally, Hillary for America and the DNC did not have an arms-length relationship with Perkins Coie; the Chair of that firm’s political law practice, Marc Elias, was the Clinton campaign’s general counsel, and according to the Washington Post was “acting on behalf of the Clinton campaign and the DNC” when he contracted with Fusion GPS for opposition research.
Sexton surmises that Clinton hasn’t yet commented on the story because “she knew there were other shoes still to drop. She’s waiting until the story stabilizes before offering he usual less-than-truthful response.”
Here’s hoping the FEC comes down on Clinton and the DNC like a ton of bricks, but that should only be the beginning. It’s time for the Justice Department to step in.