“Totally unprecedented”: Feds probe “mysterious" financial ties among Trump-linked dark money groups

Campaign finance experts urge feds to "follow the money"

Published May 12, 2022 10:57AM (EDT)

Donald Trump arrives at a rally on April 2 near Washington, Michigan.  ( Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Donald Trump arrives at a rally on April 2 near Washington, Michigan. ( Scott Olson/Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

A federal inquiry is shedding light on the mysterious financial connection between more than a dozen political committees and dark money organizations aligned with former President Donald Trump.

According to The Daily Beast, the issues with the organizations also appear to be connected to former Trump White House aide Corey Lewandowski. In fact, the news outlet reports that: "Anyone who's taken even the quickest of peeks at Trump's personal financial disclosures would recognize the pattern."

Speaking to The Beast, Brendan Fischer, deputy executive director of the government accountability organization, Documented, weighed in with details about the extent of the questionable nature of these Trump-aligned organizations.

Per The Beast, a list of more than 12 political committees and dark money groups has been released. In fact, all of the organizations contain similar names and wording.

  • Make America Great Again PAC (converted from the old Trump campaign)
  • Make America Great Again Action (super PAC)
  • Make America Great Again, Again! (super PAC)
  • Trump Make America Great Again (small-dollar joint fundraising committee)
  • Make America Great Again Policies Inc (a 501(c)(4) nonprofit)
  • America First Policy Institute (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit)
  • America First Works (formerly America First Policies; a 501(c)(4) nonprofit)
  • America First Legal Foundation (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit)
  • America First Action (super PAC)
  • Save America (leadership PAC)
  • Save America JFC (joint fundraising committee)
  • Trump Victory (high-dollar joint fundraising committee)

"Typically, former presidents focus on their presidential library, or start a charitable foundation, but Trump is staying in the political game and raising a staggering amount of cash," Fischer said.

"It is worth emphasizing: All of this is totally unprecedented for a former president," Fischer told The Daily Beast. "Even if Trump kept it simple, and just had one hard money PAC, a single super PAC, and a pair of 501(c)(3)/501(c)(4) nonprofits, there would be no parallel with any former president in American history."

The handling of each organization also includes distinctive activity patterns which The Beast has pointed out.

"His first such disclosure revealed positions with more than 500 entities, nearly 400 of which used his name or initials. And Trump has 'organized' the mess in a stultifying Russian-nesting-doll structure—companies within companies within companies. Frequently, one company will be held under multiple Trump companies at the same time, each with stakes in still other Trump companies."

It has also been noted that the structure of each entity has given the Trump Organization a substantial advantage for "financial flexibility while making it difficult to follow the billions of dollars that Trump, his family, and his accountants move across the organization."

Brett Kappel, a campaign finance specialist who also focuses on nonprofit law for Harmon Curran, offered his assessment of the situation.

"The central lesson of Watergate is 'Follow the money,'" Kappel told the news outlet. "And this byzantine structure of different types of legal entities—which are subject to different fundraising restrictions and file different reports with different agencies according to different filing schedules—appears to be designed to make that task as difficult as possible."

By Meaghan Ellis

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