On Tuesday, Axios reported on a newly public search warrant from the FBI revealing an investigation into a "massive scheme" to illegally funnel money to Maine Republican Sen. Susan Collins' 2020 re-election campaign.
Federal investigators suspect defense contractor Navatek and its former CEO Martin Kao illegally directed $150,000 to a Collins super PAC through a shell company. They also believe Kao reimbursed family members for donating to Collins, an illegal way to circumvent campaign donation limits. Kao has previously been indicted for fraudulently receiving COVID relief funds, Axios reported.
"According to the FBI, Kao and his wife set up a sham LLC called the Society for Young Women Scientists and Engineers. Navatek then wrote the LLC a $150,000 check, investigators say, which was passed on to the super PAC," Axios reported. "Government contractors are barred from donating to federal political committees, and investigators suspect the donations were attempts to evade that prohibition."
It continued: "Investigators say bank records also show that Kao illegally reimbursed family members who donated to Collins' campaign, and that Navatek reimbursed some of Kao's colleagues for their contributions."
The documents do not indicate that either Collins or her campaign were aware of the scheme, and a spokesperson for the senator told Axios they "had absolutely no knowledge of anything alleged in the warrant." However, the search warrant does report that a member of the senator's staff suggested to Kao that he could have direct his family members to donate to Collins after he had reached the legal limit. And Collins has previously assisted the company Navatek, the document explains, by getting it an $8 million contract with the federal government.