Trump campaign accused of breaking federal law by hiding millions in legal payments

The Campaign Legal Center watchdog is asking the Federal Election Commission to investigate the payments immediately

Martha McHardy
Friday 26 April 2024 11:05 BST
Trump complains to press about how cold it is in courtroom

A complaint filed with the Federal Election Commission has alleged that the Trump campaign and its related political committees have potentially violated federal law by concealing who is being paid for much of the former president’s legal work.

The complaint, which was filed with the FEC by the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), a nonprofit government watchdog, alleges that Trump’s campaign and four other related political committees reimbursed compliance firm Red Curve Solutions $7.2 million for legal fees and expenses between 7 December 2022 and 18 March 2024.

However, Red Curve “does not appear to offer any legal services,” CLC noted in the complaint.

According to the company’s LinkedIn page, Red Curve Solutions helps political campaigns with a range of services, including “comprehensive budgeting, accounting and financial management and compliance services.”

The company is managed by Bradley Crate, who serves as treasurer for the Trump campaign and the four other committees, according to the complaint.

The complaint adds that the arrangement between the Trump Campaign and Red Curve “seems designed to obscure the true recipients of a noteworthy portion of Trump’s legal bills and, in doing so, seems to violate federal law.”

CLC is asking the FEC to investigate the payments immediately, citing the fact that the arrangement is ongoing.

“Red Curve appears to have been fronting legal costs for Trump since at least December 2022, with Trump-affiliated committees repaying the company later,” CLC said in the complaint. “This arrangement appears to violate FEC rules that require campaigns to disclose not only the entity being reimbursed (here, Red Curve) but also the underlying vendor.”

The complaint goes on to say that the fact that the committees and the company—which specializes in campaign finance reporting services—did not properly itemize these reimbursements “undermines the bedrock transparency” of public disclosure laws.

In the filing, the Trump campaign is also accused of violating a federal prohibition on corporate political contributions with its arrangement with Red Curve.

As a limited liability corporation, Red Curve “would be legally barred from making any contributions, such as an in-kind contribution or advance, to Trump’s campaign and any other ‘hard money’ committee – even if that payment or advance is fully reimbursed,” the complaint states.

CLC director of federal reform Saurav Ghosh told The Daily Beast, who originally reported the allegations, says the public should not be deprived of its right to know exactly who Trump-connected political groups are paying.

“Available information points to the conclusion that Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign and other Trump-affiliated committees violated federal law by obscuring who they paid for legal services and how much they paid for those services,” Ghosh said in a statement.

“Voters have a right to know exactly how these Trump-affiliated committees are spending their money, particularly since it is unprecedented to see political candidates or committees spending such massive amounts of money on legal expenses.”

The Independent has contacted the Trump campaign and Red Curve for comment.

Figures released by the FEC earlier this week revealed that Mr Trump’s legal fees are taking a chunk out of his campaign funds, with the Save America political action committee (PAC), which is connected to the Trump campaign, spending $3.7m on legal fees for the former president in March.

While Save America has not disclosed the details of how much it has spent on each of Trump’s legal cases, its filings show that since the start of 2023 it has spent more than $59 million on lawyer fees.

MTrump, who is the first US president to go on trial, is currently on trial accused of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in an alleged bid to cover up hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels for an alleged affair Daniels says they had. Trump denies both the affair and all the charges against him.

He is also involved in two other criminal cases related to his alleged attempts to conspire to overturn the result of the 2020 election and another case related to retaining classified documents.

But his legal troubles do not start or end there. He also lost a trial last year stemming from a blockbuster lawsuit accusing him of lying about his wealth and assets for years as he built the real estate empire that vaulted him to stardom and the White House.

A judge ordered him to pay a $454 million penalty in connection with the case. However, the decision was halted after Mr Trump posted a $175 million bond, preventing the state from seizing his assets to satisfy the debt while he appeals the judge’s decision.

Meanwhile, he posted a $91.6 million bond in a defamation case brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll, and a $175 million bond in a fraud case involving falsifying business records.

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