The Telegraph: Exclusive: Pro-Trump campaign group should face inquiry over 'foreign donor’, leading election lawyer states
Lawrence Noble, who was general counsel at the US Federal Election Commission (FEC) for 13 years, said Jesse Benton, former chief strategist at the Great America PAC, was clearly “soliciting foreign national money” from a fictitious Chinese donor in recordings by undercover reporters.
His actions demonstrated “clear violations” of the Federal Election Campaign Act, which the PAC and Eric Beach, its co-chair, who referred Mr Benton to the reporters, could also have breached.
Mr Noble reviewed recordings of discussions with Mr Benton, who said he was acting as a “consultant” to the Great America PAC, one of the leading "independent" groups organising television advertisements and grassroots support for the Republican nominee.
Having reviewed Mr Benton’s discussions with reporters, Mr Noble, who is now general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a DC-based advocacy group, said: “The scheme here is a scheme to launder foreign money to a super PAC, which is illegal. And it is very clear that the intention was that the money be given to help the Trump super PAC. It was agreed several times that the money would help the Trump super PAC.”
Mr Noble called for the actions of the PAC and Mr Benton to be examined by the Federal Election Commission and Department of Justice, saying: “I think there should be an investigation. No money changed hands but the solicitation of the money is illegal.
The PAC has distanced itself from Mr Benton and denied wrongdoing, but Mr Noble said: "Because Eric Beach is involved in this it is very hard to see how they can say that the PAC is not involved. It's hard to see how they could seriously argue that the super PAC is not responsible for this."
Mr Noble said: "This is exactly what we have been saying would happen. This use of C4s is something that we have complained about and we have tried to get the law changed. One thing people have said is that it can allow foreign national money in. Members of Congress have talked about the danger. The response is that 'there is no evidence that it could do that'. Well, here is evidence of how it happens."