Autumn, it seems, is not the best season for Hillary Rodham Clinton. Last November… well, reminders probably aren’t necessary. And, as the days grow shorter and the leaves more colorful this year, there’s another ghastly revelation emerging for Team Clinton: After nearly a year of speculation, a Washington Post report published Tuesday linked the erstwhile Democrat standard-bearer and her functionaries at the Democrat National Committee with providing the funding for the infamous, debunked “Trump dossier.”
Now, that revelation could mean Hillary is involved with another investigation — this time with the Federal Election Commission.
According to The Washington Times, a watchdog group filed a complaint with the FEC on Wednesday charging that the DNC and Clinton campaign violated campaign finance law by failing to disclose the nature of the payments they were making through a lawyer to the company that compiled the dossier — Fusion GPS.
Paying via a law firm allowed the campaign to characterize the money as “legal services” rather than opposition research, the group argues.
Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan outfit that also filed a complaint against the anti-John Kerry PAC Swift Boat Veterans for Truth back in 2004, said that since the nature of the payments was effectively hidden from the public, Clinton’s campaign violated provisions of federal law that require disclosure of both the recipient of the money and the reason it’s being spent.
“By filing misleading reports, the DNC and Clinton campaign undermined the vital public information role of campaign disclosures,” Adav Noti, a former FEC official who is the senior director of trial litigation and strategy at the Campaign Legal Center, told The Washington Times.
“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.”
The Washington Post’s report Tuesday said that Clinton lawyer Marc E. Elias retained Fusion GPS in April 2016 to conduct the research behind the Trump dossier after an unnamed Republican donor pulled funding. That funding continued until the end of October 2016, just days before the election.
Fusion GPS, a Democrat-linked opposition research firm, has long sought to obfuscate where the money to assemble the dossier came from. Appearing before the House Intelligence Committee last week, Fusion GPS executives invoked their Fifth Amendment rights to refuse to testify. Later in the week, they petitioned a federal court to keep subpoenaed financial records from being turned over to the committee..
But the Campaign Legal Center argues that records like that are the point of campaign finance laws.
“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,” Brendan Fischer, director of federal and FEC reform at CLC, told reporters.
“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.”