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Divided We Stand

Divided We Stand
New book about the 2020 election.

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Foreign Money

The DOJ announced charges in September against Republican operatives Jesse Benton and Doug Wead for allegedly funneling money from a Russian national to the Trump campaign’s joint fundraising committee in a straw donor scheme.

On Oct. 12, the FEC unsealed a signed conciliation agreement in which the pro-Trump Great America PAC agreed to pay a $25,000 fine after Benton allegedly solicited $2 million in 2016 from Telegraph journalists posing as representatives of a Chinese national.

In a recording released by The Telegraph, Benton can be heard describing how a foreign national could pass a $2 million contribution to the PAC through shell companies and 501(c)(4) nonprofit dark money groups.

The FEC charged Benton with knowingly soliciting illegal funds from a foreign national but Benton declined to cooperate with the FEC’s investigation and chose not to enter into conciliation because of due process issues. The FEC ultimately deadlocked on whether to pursue the matter further.

In December 2020, Benton was pardoned by Trump on charges tied to hiding bribes in an unrelated 2012 campaign finance scandal. At the time, Benton allegedly paid a vendor who then paid a subvendor, violating the FEC’s ultimate vendor disclosure rules.