The Hillary Clinton presidential campaign as well as the DNC violated campaign finance law when they hid payments to a private firm, a Federal Elections Committee complaint filed Wednesday by a nonpartisan group alleges.
The Campaign Legal Center (CLC) claimed the DNC and Hillary for America worked to undermine federal election laws and the public’s right to know after a Washington Post article alleged that a Clinton lawyer hired a private firm to investigate ties between Donald Trump and Russia.
“They failed to accurately disclose the purpose and recipient of payments for the dossier of research alleging connections between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russia, effectively hiding these payments from public scrutiny, contrary to the requirements of federal law,” a press release from the organization states.
On Tuesday, a Post article claimed lawyer Marc Elias of the law firm Perkins Coie, working on behalf of the Clinton campaign, hired opposition research firm Fusion GPS to look for ties between Trump and Russia.
The CLC claims the Clinton campaign purposely mislabeled disbursements which were actually paying for Fusion GPS’s services, in efforts to obscure how millions of campaign dollars were actually spent.
“There is reason to believe that Hillary for America and the DNC filed false reports by (a) failing to accurately report the ‘purpose’ of disbursements, describing disbursements for ‘legal services’ or ‘legal and compliance consulting’ when the actual purpose was research and (b) inaccurately reporting payments to Perkins Coie that were, in reality, earmarked for Fusion GPS, in violation of FECA’s reporting requirements,” the organization wrote in its complaint.
A lawyer for the CLC notes that hiring an opposition research firm is not illegal so long as campaigns offer full disclosure.
“Questions about who paid for this dossier are the subject of intense public interest, and this is precisely the information that FEC reports are supposed to provide,” said CLC Director, Federal & FEC Reform Brendan Fischer. “Payments by a campaign or party committee to an opposition research firm are legal, as long as those payments are accurately disclosed. But describing payments for opposition research as ‘legal services’ is entirely misleading and subverts the reporting requirements.”
Read the CLC’s legal challenge below: