22:49 GMT30 May 2020
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    One of President-elect Donald Trump’s major campaign supporters failed to provide financial information before Election Day, according to an investigation by campaign finance journalist Robert Faturechi.

    One month after the election, journalists keep digging into Trump's campaign practices. This time, former LA Times journalist Robert Faturechi discovered that one of the campaign's fundraisers failed to disclose its own donors before the elections day.

    The fundraiser in question is called America Comes First PAC, created early in August 2016. According to Faturechi, the company operated for three months without disclosing either the amount of money it raised or who its donors were. It was not until October 31, one week before the elections, that the Federal Election Commission decided to finally send a warning letter to the PAC.

    "It is important that you file this report immediately," the letter read.

    However, the PAC failed to provide the requested information in time. According to the PAC's head, former security experts David Schamens, this was unintentional and happened because of poor bookkeeping. The PAC started submitting the data only in December, writes Faturechi.

    One might wonder, how much money did America Comes First raise and how big this deal actually is? According to Faturechi, the total amount of money raised by the America Comes First PAC is $315,601.

    According to OpenSecrets.com, this figure would have put America Comes First in ninth place among Trump fundraisers, between the Committee for American Sovereignty (which raised $469,271) and Trump Victory (which raised $159,772). By comparison, the largest pro-Trump fundraiser, Donald J. Trump for President, raised a tremendous $247.5 million. The Great America PAC followed with $28. 4 million. In fact, each of the campaign's top five fundraisers contributed more than $10 million each.

    Faturechi also names several other violations of disclosure rules. For example, the PAC failed to report the video ads that the PAC produced independently, as Federal Election Commission rules demand all independent expenditures above $200 to be reported within 48 hours.

    According to Daniel Weiner, an attorney at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, donations made to the PAC by companies, mentioned in filings as Sokal Media Group or Kinderton Banjing Transfer, exceed the legal limit of $5,000.

    Faturechi also notes that the address of the latter company corresponds with that of Bank of America, North Carolina, and "Schamens could not explain what Kinderton Banjing Transfer was." Before assuming a cryptic Chinese foreign donor, consider that perhaps this is actually a typo and intended to be Kinderton Banking Transfer, which stands for the Kinderton branch of Bank of America in in Advance, North Carolina, where the America Comes First PAC is registered. (You are welcome, Mr. Faturechi!)

    According to FEC reports, most contributions to America Comes First came from the PAC's leader, Schamens himself. Schamens denies this, and said Friday that the PAC's filings with the FEC were inaccurate, and that most of the donations did not come from him personally.

    Nevertheless, Faturechi underscores that Schamens was accused of security business fraud back in the 1990s. Schamens did not admit to the allegations but agreed to be barred from associating with investment companies or securities brokers. Now he runs a company called TradeStream Analytics, which optimizes and expedites securities trading.

    Any disclosures that Schamens submits now will be useless, says Weiner.

    "We want voters to be able to make the decision when they vote," he said.

    According to The Federal Election Commission website, America Comes First, as a non-Super-PAC, donated $5,000, the legal maximum, to the Trump campaign directly. Weiner has reportedly urged Trump's fundraising committee to return the contributions, but admitted it's not clear whether the law requires them to.

    According to Weiner, the PAC is likely to be fined by the FEC now, but it's hard to predict how big the fee might be at the moment.

     

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    Tags:
    presidential election, finance, violation of law, fundraising, America Comes First PAC, David Schamens, Daniel Weiner, Donald Trump, North Carolina, United States
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