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Watchdog ‘has evidence’ Bannon illegally received super PAC payments while leading Trump’s campaign

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A campaign ethics watchdog group known as the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) notified the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) on Wednesday that it has evidence of illegal contributions made from a Trump-aligned super PAC to President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.

A letter from the CLC to the FEC’s Complaints Examination and Legal Administration office said that the super PAC Make America Number 1 — run by Republican mega-donor Robert Mercer — “illegally compensated Steve Bannon’s work as Donald Trump’s campaign CEO, and that the super PAC and campaign engaged in unlawful coordinated spending by using the common vendor Cambridge Analytica.” The letter is a follow-up to a complaint lodged by the CLC in October.

“The evidence suggests that the Mercer-backed super PAC secretly subsidized Bannon’s work for the Trump campaign by payments to ‘Glittering Steel,’ which we now know has been chaired and is owned by Bannon and which paid him a monthly consulting fee,” said Brendan Fischer — the director of the federal and FEC reform program at the CLC.

Furthermore, said Fischer, “both Bannon and Make America Number 1’s leadership owned and were on the board of Cambridge Analytica, and news reports indicate that the Trump campaign hired Cambridge Analytica at the urging of Make America Number 1’s head, strengthening the inference that Cambridge Analytica was used as a means of sharing information between the campaign and super PAC, in violation of federal law.”

The CLC also filed a complaint with California’s attorney general and secretary of state demanding a review of Glittering Steel LLC’s compliance with state laws. According to the ethics group, Glittering Steel was never licensed to do business in California, however, Make America Number 1’s filings with the FEC show that the PAC paid millions of dollars to Glittering Steel at an address in California.

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On his personal financial disclosure, Bannon said that he was paid by Glittering Steel through his California-based consulting firm.

“Entities engaged in intrastate commerce in California must register and publicly disclose their board membership, and may be subject to taxation,” said Fischer.

(NOTE: Our previous headline stated that Bannon made ‘millions’ from the millions of dollars paid to Glittering Steel, LLC from Mercer’s super PAC. However, it’s unclear what funds he specifically received before and after he resigned from Glittering Steel in August or the amount of his remaining financial stake in the company.)

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