Trump campaign solicits foreign donations, in violation of FEC rules

Members of foreign governments have been receiving donation requests from the Donald Trump campaign.

Evan Vucci/AP
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, shown here during a campaign event Saturday, has been accused on soliciting foreign donations in violation of FEC rules.

The campaign of presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is continuing to solicit donations from foreign politicians, despite highly publicized FEC complaints against him, The Hill reported. Accepting donations from foreign nationals is in violation of FEC rules. 

Mr. Trump was accused in June of asking politicians in Iceland, Scotland, Britain, and Australia for donations, according to an FEC filing. The complaint was filed by two campaign finance watchdog organizations, Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, after foreign media reported members of the government in their countries had received emails from the Trump campaign asking for donations, as the Guardian reported. 

"Donald Trump should have known better," Paul S. Ryan, deputy executive director of Campaign Legal Center, told the Guardian. "It is a no-brainer that it violates the law to send fundraising emails to members of a foreign government on their official foreign government email accounts, and yet, that’s exactly what Trump has done repeatedly."

The Trump campaign did not respond to The Hill's requests for comment, and Trump and his campaign have made no public statements on the matter.

The Federal Election Campaign Act prohibits foreign nationals from donating to any local, state or federal US election. According to FECA, it is also "unlawful to help foreign nationals violate that ban or to solicit, receive or accept contributions or donations from them." Those who "knowingly and willfully" do so can be subject to fines, imprisonment, or both.

"If the Trump campaign has continued to solicit foreign nationals after the matter first came to light in June, this looks like either gross incompetence, gross negligence or willful conduct," Larry Noble, the general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, told the Hill. 

The politicians receiving these emails come from a wide range of political parties, and many expressed confusion over why they had been contacted. 

"This whole matter is very perplexing," Katrín Jakobsdóttir, head of the Left Green Party, told Iceland Magazine. "The letter left me speechless."

Many of the politicians who received emails hold different political views that differ greatly from those of Trump. 

"Quite why you think it appropriate to write emails to U.K. parliamentarians with a begging bowl is for your father's repugnant campaign is completely beyond me," MP Natalie McGarry, wrote in response to a message attributed to Donald Trump, Jr, as US News and World Report reported. "Given his rhetoric on migrants, refugees and immigration, it seems quite extraordinary that he would be asking foreign nationals for money, especially people who view his dangerous divisiveness with horror."

Parliament members in the UK and Australia both confirmed they had received fundraising emails as recently as July 12, the Hill reported. 

"This is kind of absurd. I don't know of anyone else in this situation who would just go on keeping on soliciting money from foreign interests," Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, told the Hill. "I think the fact circumstances here are unprecedented." 

Mr. Wertheimer is considering taking the current FEC complaint a step further by launching a criminal complaint against the Trump campaign. 

"There is no reason this should be happening," Mr. Noble said. "While US citizens do live abroad, they usually don't have foreign government email addresses or are members of parliament, so they can't try to explain this by saying they thought they were soliciting US citizens abroad." 

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