FBI investigating possible illegal donations to support GOP senator Susan Collins’ campaign

A spokeswoman for the senator said she had no knowledge of the alleged activity

Graig Graziosi
Wednesday 19 May 2021 22:39
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The FBI is investigating potentially illegal contributions supporting Republican senator Susan Collins' 2020 re-election campaign from a defence contractor.

The investigation was revealed thanks to newly unsealed search warrants. Axios first reported on the warrant.

The warrant was filed on 7 April in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. It demands access to a hard drive as part of an investigation into a contractor called Navatek, which is based in Hawaii. The group rebranded itself last year and is now known as Martin Defense Group.

The investigation is probing whether or not the company's former CEO, Martin Kao, illegally funded Ms Collins' campaign by moving money from Navatek through a shell company and into a political action committee supporting the senator.

Ms Collins has previous ties to the company.

In 2019, she announced that Navatek would receive an $8m contract from the Defence Department, which she said she "strongly advocated" in a press release regarding the contract.

Three months later, Mr Kao's wife, Tiffany Lam, started an LLC named The Society of Young Women Scientist and Engineers which was used to move $150,000 from Navatek into Ms Collins' 1820 PAC, according to a warrant.

It is illegal under campaign finance law for contractors to make political campaign contributions, and it bars individuals from making donations under someone else's name.

Investigators have claimed that Mr Kao reimbursed several family members for their donations to Ms Collins' campaign totaling $44,000.

A Navatek official, Clifford Chen, allegedly gave his mother money and instructed her to donate to Ms Collins' campaign. The mother did so, which she revealed to investigators.

A spokeswoman for Ms Collins issued a statement saying the senator had "absolutely no knowledge of anything alleged in the warrant”.

Another spokesperson, representing the Martin Defense Group, told The Washington Post that Mr Kao and other individuals involved in the probe were "no longer employees" of the company, and said it was "fully cooperating with the government investigation."

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