It was called, simply enough, the “58th Presidential Inaugural Committee,” and it raised a stunning $107 million in donations from various sources, more than twice the previous record which was set by Barack Obama in 2009. But it may also have proven to be nothing more than a way for shady characters to give money while using phony names, records, and various front organizations in violation of federal law.
Christina Wilkie of the Huffington Post has been looking closely at the Trump campaign’s filing with the Federal Elections Commission, and what she’s finding could well be fraud on a massive scale:
Wow: Scores of donors to Trump's inauguration are phony records or front groups. Help us dig, spreadsheet is open! https://t.co/e7IVvIx8gB
— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) April 21, 2017
Here’s a few of the bizarre donors Wilkie has uncovered so far:
- Marion Forcht of Corbin, KY donated $50,000 to the inaugural committee. His wife Terry also donated $50,000. Forcht owns Forcht Insurance Agency, which has an estimated annual revenue of $134,500.
- GLM Development–with an estimated revenue of 146,000–donated $100,000 to the Trump inaugural committee.
- Isabel T. John of Englewood, NJ donated $400,000. No big deal until you discover that no such person exists.
In a separate investigation into the FEC filings, the Intercept found that the inaugural committee claims it received $25,000 from NASA mathematician and physicist Katherine Johnson. But her power of attorney says that’s incorrect; a donation was never made by Johnson.
The Intercept also found that the FEC filings for the Trump inaugural committee show a $1 million donation from American Action Network, which NBC calls a “dark money power player” i.e. an organization used to funnel money to campaigns while at the same time masking the identity of the donor. And it lists a $300,000 donation from Bennett LeBow, a businessman who partnered with Trump on a real estate venture in Moscow.
All of this suggests not only fraud, but could also point to money laundering by individuals or groups who are trying desperately to hide large sums of money in order to prevent revealing the real source of the funds. It could also indicate that donors gave the money in exchange for favors or consideration by the Trump administration, which is also know as “pay to play.”
If this makes you angry, you can join the hunt for exactly where all of this money came from. Wilkie has transferred inaugural committee’s FEC filing to an open-source spreadsheet and is asking for volunteers to participate:
I made a public sheet so all you awesome volunteer researchers can keep track of what you find. Just add a comment: https://t.co/Dna3e25KEN
— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) April 20, 2017
Looks like we may need a Congressional committee to investigate this matter, too. Then again, a federal grand jury might be a better idea.
This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org