We all know that money influences elections. Lobbyists/registrants, or political action committees (PACs) that they establish can collect or bundle election contributions. These PACs are extremely powerful in fundraising. And, there is a dirty open secret in politics: while most donors for super PACs are easily identified and disclosed, some disclosed information masks the true donor identity. There is also no law that requires the disclosure of campaign bundlers, as long as these bundlers are not currently active and federally registered lobbyists. If they are not, the disclosure of these bundlers is voluntary.
Did Money Corrupt Trump’s Election?
We might remember Trump for making the statement that he is using his own funds to run for president. And, he also stated that he did not need anybody’s funding. He then repeatedly emphasized, over the next few months, that he would not rely on big-money political action committees or PACs. He even criticized those who did. His rhetoric was to “drain the swamp”. And, many voters who believed that Trump would drain the swamp voted for him.
However, it seemed that Trump changed his stance. While Trump initially insisted that he could fund his own campaign, he put $66 million of his own funds into his campaign. As Trump did not want to dig too deeply, fundraisers stepped into fill the void. Trump raised about $339 million and spent about $322 million.
Thus, Trump’s promise that he would not rely on big-money outside financiers was no longer true. His $66M of personal funds that he spent is less than 1/5 of what his campaign raised from all sources. This includes individual donors and committees.
Federal Prosecutors Investigate Whether Foreign Donors Channeled Money into Super PAC
Now, federal prosecutors are investigating whether foreign donors channeled funds into a pro-Trump super PAC. This is because there is a concern over whether people from Middle Eastern countries disguised donations to the super PAC and Trump’s inaugural fund. They might have done this by using straw donors. Foreign contributions are, of course, prohibited. And, this is because foreign contributions might influence American policy.