After going dark following a series of conflicts of interest and back-and-forth exchanges with the Federal Election Commission in 2016 , the "Make America Great Again" political action committee on Wednesday made a strange reimbursement to a man linked to an indicted ex-Trump campaign figure.
The Daily Beast reported Thursday that despite a $1 million startup infusion from a Vegas casino magnate, the MAGA super PAC's official lifespan only lasted six months in late 2015 after questions arose about the group's backers that included Jared Kushner's mother.
By the time the PAC shuttered its doors at the end of 2015, it reported in an FEC filing that it had $157,000 in the bank. But in its next filing, the report noted, the group claimed to have a negative balance of $3,500 — and still hasn't explained what happened with the rest of the money.
In the middle of 2016, the MAGA PAC attempted to un-register with the FEC, but the commission, the Beast noted, wouldn't allow the group to fold until it explained what happened to the more than $160,000 it had spent. It curiously amended its termination filing in September 2016 to say that actually, it had $154,000 cash on hand — and then stopped filing reports for the rest of the year.
"The committee went dark until January 2017, when it filed pre-and post-general election reports disclosing a cash balance of less than $50,000," the Beast's report noted. "The reports said it had disbursed about $110,000 between March and October of 2016, but contained none of the required details on how that money was spent."
The MAGA PAC continued to evade questions about what happened with that money until this week, when it "quietly amended a 2016 quarterly FEC filing to note a very conspicuous transaction," the report continued. In that amended filing, the group claimed it refunded $50,000 to a Michael Dezertzov — a real estate developer in Florida who goes by the shortened name Michael Dezer.
"Dezertzov has partnered with Trump on a number of high-profile real-estate projects, and made bank selling Trump condos to, among others, wealthy Russian buyers," the report noted. "The refund of Dezertzov’s contribution came on Aug. 18, 2016, according to Make America Great Again’s amended FEC filing. The next day, Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort resigned under scrutiny of his own business dealings with wealthy Russian businessmen."