The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Committee on Tuesday, claiming that the 58th Presidential Inaugural Committee filed a report with missing as well as false information. The complaint cites a report the committee filed with the FEC in April, as well as a Huffington Post article that revealed the committee was aware of errors in the report.
The complaint alleges that the committee “showed a reckless disregard for their duty to collect the statutorily required information from each donor who gave over $200,” noting that they should have reported the addresses of each donor. According to 36 U.S. Code § 510, any donation of $200 or greater must be reported, along with the date of the donation, as well as the name and address of the donor.
The Huffington Post report stated much of the errors appear to be due to the system used for selling tickets to the inauguration.
The way it worked was Trump supporters received access codes that let them purchase tickets to the event, and each transaction using a particular access code was linked to the address of the person who first got the code. So if someone gave their access code to someone else (or sold it on eBay as some reportedly did), or if they used the code to buy multiple tickets for different people, the address connected to the access code would appear listed under each ticket as a separate donation. As a result, multiple donations were reported under the same address, and some had addresses that didn’t belong to the named ticket holders.
One ticket purchaser told HuffPo that she used four different access codes that belonged to different friends in order to get a total of eight tickets. “The inauguration website did not request my street address when I purchased the tickets, even though I paid for the tickets using my credit card,” she said. “I also listed the individual name of each ticket holder and their email address for delivery of their ball tickets.” As a result, none of the people named as ticket holders appeared on the FEC report. Instead, the woman who purchased the tickets was listed as making eight different donations under four separate addresses.
The mix-ups, even if unintentional on the part of the committee, would still be considered violations if the the committee did not take reasonable measures to verify that the information they reported was accurate, the complaint alleges. The report filed with the FEC was signed by a committee member, affirming that the contents were indeed accurate and complete.
“It appears that the Trump Inaugural Committee did not take even a minimal level of care to meet its legal obligation to submit accurate financial disclosure reports to the FEC identifying the sources of the millions of dollars it raised,” said Donald Simon, general counsel of Democracy 21.
“The Trump inaugural committee raised more money than any other in history but recklessly disregarded the law’s disclosure requirements,” Brendan Fischer, federal and FEC reform program director at the Campaign Legal Center, said in a statement obtained by LawNewz. “Ignoring the law’s reporting requirements prevents the public from exercising their right to know who is seeking to influence the administration through donations to the inaugural committee.”
Alex Stroman, an inaugural committee spokesman, told HuffPo, “We plan to amend our report to reflect any changes that we have become aware of, including many of those donor records or technical glitches that we have recently become aware of, as is common practice with FEC reporting.” LawNewz.com attempted to reach Stroman for comment on the new FEC complaint, and will update upon receiving a response.
[Image via CNN screengrab]