Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Liz Miller
Observer Staff Writer 

Trump Campaign Continues to Solicit Foreign Cash Despite Warnings

Australian Parliament Member asked to donate this week

 

August 22, 2016

Screen shot of solicitation received by Australian Parliament Member Terri Butler at her gov.au email address.

Despite several warnings and a criminal complaint, Donald Trump's presidential campaign continues to ask for donations from foreign nationals.

In June of this year, complaints were filed with the Federal Election Committee (FEC) by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 against Trump after it became public that he had been asking for campaign contributions from members of the Parliament of the United Kingdom.

UK Parliament Members Peter Bottomley and Bob Blackman both said that they'd received numerous fundraising appeals on the Republican nominee's behalf.

It is illegal for foreign individuals, corporations or governments to give money directly to U.S. candidates or to spend on advertising to influence U.S. elections, and so, obviously, it is also illegal for U.S. candidates to solicit foreign money.

At the time, the nominee's representatives said the emails went out to people who had signed up to receive information from the campaign, but then those addresses from other countries were later deleted.

On Sunday, August 14, an Australian member of parliament, Terri Butler, emailed The Hill with a screenshot of the latest fundraising solicitation she'd received from the Trump campaign, according reporter Jonathan Swan.

The message went to Butler's government email account.

Butler reported that she has received several fundraising solicitations from the Trump campaign at her gov.au account.

It is typical for campaigns to purchase their email lists from well-known and trusted vendors, and then afterward run the list through suppresser programs that eliminate any email addresses that are likely to be foreign in nature.

"gov.au" is clearly an Australian account.

Beyond that, Butler says she has never signed up to receive anything from Trump.

There is no clear evidence that Trump has collected foreign moneys, but a well-run campaign operating above board would be acting with extreme caution after already receiving official warnings.

As a businessman, Trump dealt readily with investors from all over the world. It has seemed to be a real challenge for him to limit himself to just being an American.

"The Trump campaign's continuing solicitation of campaign contributions from people who are obviously foreign nationals is clearly illegal," Larry Noble told Swan. Noble is the general counsel for the non-partisan watchdog Campaign Legal Center.

"Given the news reports, the complaint we filed with the [Federal Election Commission] and the letter we sent to the Department of Justice asking for a criminal investigation, his refusal to put a stop to the solicitations is compelling evidence of the campaign's flagrant disregard for the law."

Trump's people reportedly blamed "scammers" for the foreign emails, because, of course, nothing is ever their fault.

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Federal Campaign Laws

§ 30121.

Contributions and donations by foreign nationals

(a) Prohibition. It shall be unlawful for-

(1) a foreign national, directly or indirectly, to make-

(A) a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State, or local election;

(B) a contribution or donation to a committee of a political party; or

(C) an expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication (within the meaning of section 30104(f)(3) of this title); or

(2) a person to solicit, accept, or receive a contribution or donation described in subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (1) from a foreign national.

(b) As used in this section, the term "foreign national"

means-

(1) a foreign principal, as such term is defined by section611(b) of title 22, [22] except that the term "foreign national" shall not include any individual who is a citizen of the United States; or

(2) an individual who is not a citizen of the United States or a national of the United States (as defined in section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act) and who is not lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as defined by section 1101(a) (20) of title 8. [23]

It is illegal for a U.S. Presidential nominee to solicit funds from foreign sources.

[22] 22 U.S.C. § 611(b) provides: "(b) The term "foreign principal" includes- (1) a government of a foreign country and a foreign political party; (2) a person outside of the United States, unless it is established that such person is an individual and a citizen of and domiciled within the United States, or that such person is not an individual and is organized under or created by the laws of the United States or of any State or other place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and has its principal place of business within the United States; and (3) a partnership, association, corporation, organization, or other combination of persons organized under the laws of or having its principal place of business in a foreign country."

[23] 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(20) provides: "(20) The term lawfully admitted for permanent residence means the status of having been lawfully accorded the privilege of residing permanently in the United States as an immigrant in accordance with the immigration laws, such status not having changed"

 

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