Corruption Crime Donald Trump GOP Justice Department

The Justice Department Is Going After Trump And The GOP’s Criminal Fundraising Tactics

If there’s one thing Republicans take tremendous pride in, it’s their ability to raise huge sums of money for their candidates at the local, state, and federal level. With very few exceptions, GOP candidates almost always manage to build bigger campaign war chests than their Democratic counterparts.


Failed, one-term former President Donald Trump was fond of bragging about all the cash he was raking in when he ran for reelection unsuccessfully last year, and initially it appeared the Trump 2020 campaign was indeed doing well when it came to fundraising, with the New York Times reporting last April:

“President Trump’s re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee said Monday they had raised $212 million in the first three months of 2020, a signal that despite a global pandemic that has put a halt on high-dollar fund-raising events, Mr. Trump’s operation has continued to raise money at a brisk clip.”

However, the methods used by Trump and the RNC may well have been illegal, and the Justice Department is now taking a close look at the way money has been raised over the past few years, according to Axios:

“A little-noticed line in a recent criminal filing suggests federal prosecutors consider a popular political fundraising tactic to be legally questionable.

“Fundraisers often boast of ‘5x’ or other contribution matches to coax small-dollar donations. The Justice Department indicated in a court filing Monday this could amount to ‘material misrepresentations’ if, as critics often contend, there’s no evidence the match ever occurs.”

One of the groups specifically mentioned by the DOJ this week in what’s known as a Statement of Offense was the Trump-aligned Keep America Great Committee:

  • One of the groups, Keep America Great Committee, sent fundraising emails that “contained material misrepresentations including promising ‘5x’ matching of any donation to KAGC,” DOJ wrote.
  • In a news release on the guilty plea, DOJ emphasized the fraudulent matching offers. “The solicitations promised that individual donations would be “5x matched’ by (defendant James) Bell’s PACs… However, none of the individual donations was ever ‘5x matched’ by Bell or anyone else.”

How big of a deal is what the DOJ is signaling they’re ready to start enforcing? Brett Kappel, a political compliance attorney, called the move “very significant.” He added:

“This prosecution puts fundraisers on notice that the continued use of this very popular fundraising pitch will be treated as a possible violation of the mail and wire fraud statutes.”

Mail and wire fraud. And every fundraising pitch via the U.S. mail or the internet would be a separate count of fraud, which would result in fines and other penalties that could well put the GOP out of business.

So what exactly will Republicans (and Trump, who continues to try and raise funds for his own personal use) do now that they’ve been put on notice by the DOJ? Unless they want to be on the hook for millions in fines and even criminal penalties for top officials in their ranks, they’ll stop with the hyperbole and obey the law.

Of course, we won’t hold our breath waiting for that to happen.


By Andrew Bradford

Proud progressive journalist and political adviser living behind enemy lines in Red America.

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