Thursday, two campaign watchdog groups filed a complaint saying that President Donald Trump’s campaign illegally took more than $10 million after the election to pay off debt from the 2016 election.
The Campaign Legal Center and left-leaning nonprofit outfit Common Cause allege that the Trump campaign accepted donations for the 2020 election and repurposed them to pay down debt on the 2016 election.
If true, such a move would be a violation of the Federal Election Commission Act and would actually free up campaign donors to give double the legal amount of $2,700 because the money was going to the 2016 election, rather than the 2020 campaign.
This isn’t the first time post-election that the Trump campaign has run into trouble with the FEC. In mid-November 2016, the FEC looked into some $1.3 million in donations that might’ve been in violation of campaign finance laws. There, again, according to The Hill and others, questions arose as to whether donors were giving more than double the legal amount.
And in January of this year, the FEC issued a report that detailed more than 240 pages worth of donations that might’ve exceeded the legal limit.
Prior reporting from OpenSecrets suggests that the reason for all of these discrepancies might well be due to accounting issues. From that extensively detailed story, it seems as though the campaign accountants wouldn’t send donations over the limit back, but would keep them and simply mark how much excess money would need to be refunded at a later date.
Moreover, the Trump campaign also appears to have accepted anonymous donations of more than $50, which violates FEC laws. In one case, the Center for Responsive Politics found $1,300 from a MAGA joint fundraiser coming from a donor named “Anonymous,” and there are some $16,000 in anonymous donations, according to OpenSecrets’ reporting.
Unless such mistakes are properly accounted for, this is likely to be an ongoing headache for this administration.