Today the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign committee violated campaign finance law by failing to accurately disclose the purpose and recipient of payments for the dossier of research alleging connections between then-candidate Donald Trump and Russia. The CLC’s complaint asserts that by effectively hiding these payments from public scrutiny the DNC and Clinton “undermined the vital public information role of campaign disclosures.”
On October 24, The Washington Post revealed that the DNC and Hillary for America paid opposition research firm Fusion GPS to dig into Trump’s Russia ties, but routed the money through the law firm Perkins Coie and described the purpose as “legal services” on their FEC reports rather than research. By law, campaign and party committees must disclose the reason money is spent and its recipient.
“By filing misleading reports, the DNC and Clinton campaign undermined the vital public information role of campaign disclosures,” said Adav Noti, senior director, trial litigation and strategy at CLC, who previously served as the FEC’s Associate General Counsel for Policy. “Voters need campaign disclosure laws to be enforced so they can hold candidates accountable for how they raise and spend money. The FEC must investigate this apparent violation and take appropriate action.”
“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 Brendan Fischer, director, federal and FEC reform at CLC. “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.”
While details of the payment arrangements remain scarce, FEC records indicate that the Hillary campaign and the DNC paid a total of $12 million to Perkins Coie for “legal services.” Marc Elias, a Perkins partner and general counsel for Hillary’s campaign, then used some portion of those funds to turn around and hire Fusion GPS who then contracted with a former British spy, Christopher Steele, to compile the now-infamous dossier. Per the Daily Caller:
It was revealed on Tuesday that the Clinton campaign and DNC began paying Fusion GPS, the research firm that commissioned the dossier, last April to continue research it was conducting on Trump. The Washington Post reported that Fusion approached lawyers at Perkins Coie, the firm that represented the campaign and DNC, offering to sell its investigative services.
Marc Elias, a Perkins Coie partner, and the general counsel for the campaign and DNC, oversaw the operation, according to The Post.
It is not clear how much Democrats, through Perkins Coie, paid Fusion for the project, which lasted until early November. Federal Election Commission records show that the campaign and DNC paid the law firm $12 million during the election cycle.
Ironically, most of the sources listed in the dossier were based in Russia and include a “senior Kremlin official” as well as other “close associates of Vladimir Putin.” Moreover, as CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell notes, it’s highly likely that some portion of the $12 million paid to Perkins Coie by the DNC and Hillary campaign made it’s way into the pockets of those “senior Kremlin officials” as compensation for the services.
In the dossier, Steele cites numerous anonymous sources, many of which work in the upper echelons of the Russian government.
The first two sources cited in the dossier’s first memo, dated June 20, 2016, are “a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure” and “a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin.”
A third source is referred to as “a senior Russian financial official.” Other sources in the dossier are described as “a senior Kremlin official” and sources close to Igor Sechin, the head of Russian oil giant Rosneft and a close associate of Vladimir Putin’s.
To summarize, after a full year of mainstream media hysteria over alleged Trump-Russia collusion, it now appears as though the Hillary campaign may have been the only one to funnel cash to “Kremlin operatives” in return for political dirt…
Of course, we have no doubt that Hillary was in the dark about all of these arrangements.