A nonprofit watchdog group has filed federal complaints alleging that the confidentiality settlement paid to porn star Stormy Daniels in the final days before the 2016 election is a campaign expense that should have been reported to the Federal Election Commission. Common Cause says that the $130,000 hush money paid to Daniels by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen through a shell company in Delaware should have been reported because it was money paid out directly related to the outcome of the election and therefore a legitimate campaign expense. Washington Post:
In a pair of federal complaints, Common Cause, a nonprofit government watchdog group, argued that the settlement amounted to an unreported in-kind contribution to Trump’s campaign. The group called on the Justice Department and Federal Election Commission to investigate.
This settlement should have been considered a campaign expense “because the funds were paid for the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential general election,” Paul S. Ryan, a campaign finance expert at the group, said in a letter addressed to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein.
The pair of complaints filed by Common Cause said that the source of the $130,000 payment remains unknown, but they added that regardless of where it originated — even “if Donald J. Trump provided the funds” — the money was aimed at affecting the election and then never reported.
Michael Cohen says the allegations are baseless, a phrase that’s getting a lot of play these days, with Mike Pence contending that reports of the Trump/Daniels affair are “the latest baseless allegations” against Donald Trump.