A lawsuit forcing the Federal Election Commission to rule on whether the Hillary Clinton campaign broke laws to produce the infamous Steele dossier is getting new attention after FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub declared political campaigns cannot accept “anything of value” from foreign nationals.
IJR reported last month on the suit by the Coolidge Reagan Foundation to force the FEC to address a complaint filed last summer.
The complaint sought an investigation into Clinton’s campaign apparatus, Hillary for America, and the Democratic National Committee for financing the anti-Trump dossier created by British spy Christopher Steele created using Russian sources.
The dossier later was used by the Obama FBI and Justice Department as evidence to obtain warrants to spy on the Trump campaign.
IJR reported: “The original FEC complaint alleged that Hillary for America and the DNC breached campaign finance law by issuing a false report with the intention of misleading the American people. The complaint notes that campaign expenditure forms show that the DNC and Hillary for American paid their mutual legal advisers at Perkins Coie, LLP for ‘legal services,’ but the law firm turned around and paid Fusion GPS for the Steele dossier.”
The foundation charges that Clinton and the DNC used Perkins Coie to “distance themselves” from Fusion GPS and Steele and submitted a false FEC complaint in the process.
The FEC, however, has refused to vote on whether or not to investigate.
Now the case is drawing new scrutiny, the Washington Times reports, after Weintraub’s recent comments.
The Times reported: “Though not stated outright, the lawsuit argues that Democrats violated an admonition issued last week by Federal Election Commission Chairman Ellen L. Weintraub. She decreed that political campaigns cannot accept ‘anything of value’ from foreign nationals.”
Weintraub made the comments this month after President Trump said in an interview he would listen to foreign allegations against a political opponent.
“Let me make something 100 percent clear to the American public and anyone running for public office: It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept, or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election,” said Weintraub, a Democrat. “This is not a novel concept. Electoral intervention from foreign governments has been considered unacceptable since the beginnings of our nation.”
The foundation alleged that during 2016 the Democrats, Weintraub’s own party, did just that.
“The Clinton campaign, not Trump, collaborated with the Russians in a desperate, and ultimately failed, attempt to steal the election,” the complaint alleges.
A lawyer for the foundation questioned Weintraub’s sincerity, since she “hasn’t done anything” about an actual complaint relating to those very issues.
The Times said it didn’t find any Weintraub criticism of Democrats having paid Steele to collect foreign political dirt.
Perkins Coie admitted the Democratic funding of the Steele dossier when Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., subpoenaed bank records in 2017.
Steele filled his now-debunked report of claims against Trump by quoting Kremlin intelligence sources. Claims included that Trump was a spy for Russia and funded Russia’s hacking of Democratic Party computers.
The two-year investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller found no evidence of that.
Yet Obama administration appointees promoted the claims to journalists.
It’s an FEC issue because, the original complaint explains, because Hillary for America and the DNC “paid Christopher Steele, a foreign national, to generate the Steele dossier, based primarily on lies and fabrications from current and former Russian government officials and other foreign nationals.”
“To mask their key role in funding the dossier, HFA and the DNC funneled their payments through their law firm, Perkins Coie, and failed to properly report the purposes of those payments to the FEC as required by federal law.”
The FEC requires four votes to begin an investigation. There are six positions on the commission but two currently are open, meaning any single commissioner can veto an investigation.
There are two Republicans on the commission, an independent who leans Democrat and Weintraub, who, coincidentally, worked on election law at Perkins Coie before she was appointed in 2002.
The complaint centers on how the Democrats concealed their funding of a foreign national working on an election project by funneling the money through a law firm.
And there’s the issue raised by Weintraub of a foreign national contributing something of “value” to a campaign.