Donald Trump continued his years-long streak of good fortune in skating past penalties for possible campaign violations in a case involving a spa operator who allegedly funneled contributions from Chinese elites.
A 33-page report written by investigative staff for the Federal Election Commission (FEC) found Cindy Yang, now known as Li Juan “Cindy” Gong, engaged in multiple schemes to divert tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to political committees related to Trump, but the six-member commission deadlocked along partisan lines on enforcement, reported Florida Bulldog.
“Trump is now 53-0 in FEC enforcement cases,” said Brett Kappel, a campaign finance lawyer with the law firm Harmon Curran. “Since he first announced for president in 2015, the FEC has dismissed cases involving either his campaign committee, joint fundraising committees and his Super PACS. The FEC has never voted to find reasons to believe that any of his political committees violated the law, so there have been no investigations.”
The report issued in June by the FEC's general counsel presented preliminary findings that Yang violated campaign contribution laws by appearing at two fundraising events for Trump, including one party at Mar-a-Lago, with groups of Chinese business people who were required to attend, and the report urged the commission to investigate whether her contributions were excessive or made on behalf of someone else.
“The alleged violations of our campaign finance laws are egregious,” said Democratic commissioner Ellen Weintraub in a statement. “Our commitment to pursuing foreign national matters seems now to be an empty promise — or a commitment that varies based on who benefited from the prohibited fund."
Four votes are needed to proceed, but the commission's three Republicans agreed the allegations were "serious" but cited the statute of limitations -- which don't expire until at least December -- to voting against additional investigation.
“Attempting enforcement in these Matters would not be a prudent use of agency resources,” wrote chairman Allen Dickerson and commissioners Sean Cooksey and James “Trey” Trainor III -- all of whom were appointed by Trump.
However, three sections of the Dickerson, Cooksey and Trainor statement are redacted, which suggests she may be under criminal investigation by the Department of Justice.
“There are two reasons why there are redactions in the MUR (Matter Under Review) document. One is another ongoing investigation that the FEC is doing, and the other is that the Justice Department has pulled rank and said we are going to take over this part of the investigation and you can’t disclose it,” Kappel said. “That may indicate there is still time under the statute of limitations to indict her or others.”
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