Trump campaign CEO Steve Bannon may have received illegal payments from a Trump super PAC backed by deep-pocketed donors.”>
A campaign watchdog group filed a complaint with federal election officials that alleges Stephen Bannonrecently named one of Donald Trump s top White House advisersmay have gotten paid illegally during Trumps campaign by pro-Trump billionaires.
And now, a new set of Federal Election Commission filings that havent yet been reported on may give the groups case some additional heft.
At issue are payments of nearly $200, 000 that a super PAC called Make America Number 1 made to a company tied to Bannon. On Aug. 17, Bannon left his post as chairman of Breitbart News and became the Trump campaigns CEO. Available FEC filings show the campaign didnt pay Bannon a salary. Larry Noble, General Counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, said he believes the super PAC covertly paid Bannon for his campaign work through his moviemaking company. Neither the super PAC nor Bannon provided a response to Nobles comment.
In an Oct. 6 complaint to the Federal Election Commission, the Campaign Legal Center argued that Robert and Rebekah Mercera father-daughter duo who give generously to conservative causes and candidatesbroke federal campaign laws by paying Bannon for his work so the campaign wouldnt have to shoulder the cost. Robert Mercer is a reclusive billionaire hedge-fund manager, and his daughter oversees much of his political giving. Shes also on Trumps transition team.
The Campaign Legal Center says the new FEC filings undergird their case against the Mercers. Those filings cover the final weeks before Election Day, up until Nov. 5, and they show that a super PAC funded largely by the MercersMake America Number 1paid Bannons moviemaking company, Glittering Steel, $187, 500 during that window of time. The super PAC cut Glittering Steel five checks from Oct. 1 to Nov. 5: one for $40, 500, one for $50, 000, one for $37, 500 , one for $34, 500 , and one for $25, 000 .
Theres scant public information available about Glittering Steel, and the company doesnt have a website. Sources familiar with the company told The Daily Beast this month that its essentially a front for Bannon, and that Rebekah Mercer is also involved with it. The company is listed as a producer of the film Clinton Cash , based on a book of the same title that ripped into Hillary Clinton and her familys foundation for alleged influence-peddling. That narrative played a major role in Clintons ultimate loss to Trump.
It isnt clear how many people Glittering Steel employs and whatif anyfirewall existed to separate Bannons work for the Trump campaign from his companys work for the Mercers pro-Trump super PAC.
Noble says his group will likely highlight these latest FEC filings to the agency as part of its case against Bannon and the Mercers.
This is further evidence in support of the allegation in our FEC complaint that the Make America Number 1 super PAC was making illegal in-kind contributions to the Trump Campaign by paying compensation to Steve Bannon through Glittering Steel while he was working for the campaign, that he told The Daily Beast.
The FEC is already scrutinizing the Mercers super PAC. In a letter dated Nov. 9, FEC analyst Laura Sinram noted the PACs treasurer hadnt signed one of its reports on an independent expenditure. The treasurer is required to sign all those documents to promise that the super PAC didnt illegally coordinate with the campaign. Kristina Hernandez, a spokesperson for Make America Number 1, told The Daily Beast last week that the PACs lawyers will resolve the FECs queries.
Bannon, who is at the center of this questionable dealing, is poised to become one of the most powerful figures in the Trump White House. Trumps transition team announced Sunday that he will be Trumps chief strategist and senior counselor. Their statement on the hire said he will work as an equal partner with the president-elects White House chief of staff, Reince Priebus. Operatives close to Trump say they expect Bannon to have much more clout than Priebus.
Over the years, the Mercers have helped finance Bannons anti-establishment efforts, especially Breitbart News.
Trumps closing argument against Hillary Clinton was that his candidacy would drain the swamp in Washington D. C. Given the alleged ties between his top donor and advisor, Trumps swamp-draining might need to start at home.