Federal Election Commission (FEC) Spares Trump but Fines, National Enquirer Tabloid Publisher, for Hush-Money Payment to Ex-Playboy Model, who Claimed an Affair with Trump.
The FEC Fined, the National Enquirer’s Parent Company, $187,500 for “knowingly and willfully” Violating Election Law by making a Payment in 2016, to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Model who said she had an Affair with Trump years before he was Elected.
The Decision came in Response to a Complaint made more than Three years ago by the Nonprofit Government Watchdog Group, Common Cause, which was Notified of the FEC’s Findings, Tuesday.
The Group had alleged that the Company’s $150,000 Payment to McDougal, Months before the 2016 Election, was effectively an Illegal, Not Reported, In-Kind Corporate Contribution, to Trump’s Presidential Campaign.
The FEC found in May that American Media Inc. (AMI) and its former Chief Executive, David Pecker, Violated Campaign Finance Law, according to Documents the Agency, released Tuesday, to Common Cause.
The Payment was made in Consultation with Michael Cohen, Trump’s former Personal Lawyer, the Agency found.
But the Six-Member Commission, which often Deadlocks along Partisan Lines, did Not have Sufficient Votes to find that Trump and his Campaign also Broke the Law.
Paul S. Ryan, the Group’s Vice President for Policy and Litigation, hailed the News as “a win for democracy.” But he argued that the FEC’s “failure to hold former-President Trump and his campaign accountable for this violation lays bare the dysfunction at the FEC.”
He noted that the Decision comes on the Heels of a similar Decision by the Agency to Drop an Inquiry into whether Trump Violated Campaign Finance Laws when Cohen Paid Adult-Film Actress, Stormy Daniels, $130,000 in the days leading up to the 2016 Election.
“The agency has again shown itself incapable of fully enforcing the campaign finance laws passed by Congress,” Ryan said.
In a Conciliation Agreement with the FEC, AMI, now known as A360Media after a Merger, Acknowledged the Agency’s Findings but said that it did Not Knowingly or Willfully Violate the Law.
The Complaint by Common Cause Focused on a $150,000 Payment, in August 2016, from AMI to McDougal, who later told the New Yorker, that she had an Affair with Trump in 2006 and 2007. Trump has Denied the Affair.
McDougal Alleged in a Lawsuit she later Filed against AMI that the Company Bought her Story Not to publish it, but to Bury it, in Advance of the Election, sparing Trump an Embarrassing Revelation in the Run-Up to the 2016 Election.
Former AMI Employees said that the Company would Routinely Pay Money to “catch and kill” Stories about Celebrities Friendly with Pecker.
In her Suit, McDougal Alleged that AMI Colluded with the Trump Campaign to Hide the Story of her Affair, citing as evidence Pecker’s Friendship with Trump. She reached a Settlement with the Company in April 2018, leaving her No Longer Bound by the Contract with AMI.
According to the Conciliation Agreement, Signed last month and released Tuesday, A360Media Paid a Civil Penalty to Settle the FEC’s Inquiry.
The Agreement also states that A360Media “agrees not to contest” that its payment to McDougal, “combined with its decision not to publish the story, in consultation with an agent of Donald J. Trump and for the purpose of influencing the election, constituted a prohibited corporate in-kind contribution.”
In addition, the Company “acknowledges the Commission’s reason-to-believe finding that these violations were knowing and willful,” but “does not admit to the knowing and willful aspect of these violations,” according to the Agreement.
Ryan noted that Cohen Served time in Prison for Lying to Congress, Breaking Campaign Finance Laws, and Tax Evasion, but Trump has Not faced any Consequences.
“The Department of Justice has until August to prosecute Trump for orchestrating this illegal campaign finance scheme,” he said.
NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker