Business Insider is reporting that Donald Trump’s son-in-law and chief adviser Jared Kushner approved creation of a shell company that “secretly paid” Trump’s family members and “spent almost half of the campaign’s $1.26 billion war chest.”
That would amount to a cool $617 million in cash supposedly meant for Trump’s reelection campaign that essentially disappeared without a trace. The shell company appears to have served as a pass-through entity with the added benefit of shielding all of its transactions from public view.
But no worries, the company, created in April 2018, was headed by Trump daughter-in-law Lara Trump as president and Mike Pence’s nephew John Pence as its vice president, so they surely kept things on the up and up. Additionally, the Trump campaign’s CFO, Sean Dollman, became the shell company’s treasurer—and we all know what a tight ship Dollman ran at Trump’s broke campaign.
Business Insider appears to have had one key anonymous source but adds, “Insider independently verified details of this person’s account with other sources close to the Trump campaign.”
The real genius of the shell company, called American Made Media Consultants Corporation and American Made Media Consultants LLC (AMMC), was that it evaded federally mandated disclosures that would have provided insights into where Trump’s campaign cash was being funneled. Even some of Trump’s top advisors and campaign staff—who were aware of the company—say they knew next to nothing about its operations. Campaign finance records reveal that more than $600 million was spent through AMMC, but it’s unclear exactly where that money went.
Oh, and this is fun: “Trump’s campaign leaders even launched an internal audit of the shell company and operations under former campaign manager Brad Parscale but never reported the results of that review,” writes Business Insider. But most of AMMC’s money, some $415 million, was actually spent after Parscale was ousted as campaign manager in July. The final few months of the race is also when the Trump campaign became glaringly strapped for cash.
Shockingly, Kushner, Dollman, and Parscale all declined to comment for the story. But Lara Trump and John Pence appeared keen to wash their hands of AMMC.
“Lara Trump and John Pence resigned from the AMMC board in October 2019 to focus solely on their campaign activities, however, there was never any ethical or legal reason why they could not serve on the board in the first place. John and Lara were not compensated by AMMC for their service as board members,” Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh told Business Insider Friday.
The Federal Elections Commission has the power to issue fines if it concludes campaign finance laws were breached. But the Department of Justice could also open a criminal investigation if federal prosecutors believe a “knowing and willful” violation of election law took place.
A former Republican chair of the FEC, Trevor Potter, filed a civil complaint in July charging that the Trump campaign was “disguising” some $170 million in spending “by laundering the funds” through AMMC.