Complaints have been filed with the Federal Elections Commission and the Department of Justice by Common Cause.
The federal watchdog group, which supports increased regulation in regards to campaign finance, asked the agencies to investigate the $130,000 payment that Michael Cohen, President Donald Trump’s lawyer, made to former adult film star, Stephanie Clifford.
The payment was allegedly made to Ms. Clifford in exchange for her signing a non-disclosure agreement in regards to a sexual encounter with President Trump, according to a recent Wall Street Journal Report. The agreement would have stipulated that Ms. Clifford would not have been able to discuss the encounter, which apparently took place just a few months after Melania, Trump’s wife, gave birth to the couples son.
The hush money allegedly paid to Ms. Clifford may have violated the Federal Election Campaign Act, according to Common Cause. The amount of the payment exceeds the campaign contribution limit and could also have been an unreported campaign expense.
The FEC defines campaign expenditures as “payments or purchases made by any person for the purpose of influencing a federal election”. The payment was routed through a private Delaware company, Essential Consultants LLC, by Mr. Cohen to Ms. Clifford’s attorney’s bank account, immediately prior to the 2016 Presidential Election.
Paul S. Ryan, Common Causes vice president for policy and litigation says that, due to the close nature of Trump and Cohen’s relationship, and the reason for the payment, “there’s certainly reason to believe that the president knew all about this and authorized it”
If the FEC finds a willful violation, it can fine the guilty party up to twice the amount at issue. A criminal conviction for filing a false campaign finance report can result in up to five years in prison and various fines. Maybe Trump should have been a better husband and father, instead of engaging in “sexual encounters” with adult film stars.