BREAKING: Campaign Legal Center Complaint over Canadian Business Executive Funding Trump-Aligned Super PAC Results in 3rd Biggest Fine in FEC History


The Federal Election Commission has imposed a $975,000 fine on Wheatland Tube, LLC and Zekelman Industries. The fine stems from a 2019 complaint from Campaign Legal Center, filed after the companies’ chief executive – a citizen of Canada – illegally arranged $1.75 million in contributions to the Trump-affiliated super PAC America First Action.

Washington, D.C. - This week, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) handed down a $975,000 fine – the third-largest in the agency’s history and the largest fine ever for a violation of the ban on foreign spending in American elections. The decision stems from an FEC complaint that Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed in May of 2019.

CLC’s complaint alleged that Barry Zekelman, a Canadian national, violated federal law’s ban on any foreign national directly or indirectly making contributions in connection with a federal election. Zekelman had participated in the decision to direct $1.75 million in contributions from Zekelman Industries subsidiary Wheatland Tube to the super PAC America First Action, Inc.

"We applaud the FEC for doing its job. Imposing this serious penalty helps protect the voices of voters from being drowned out by foreign corporations and other special interests,” said Adav Noti, vice president and legal director of Campaign Legal Center. "Super PACs funded by foreign money are just one example of how wealthy special interests use campaign contributions to rig the political system in their favor. Super PACs should now be on notice that there are major consequences for breaking the ban on foreign contributions.”

CLC filed its initial complaint following reporting by The New York Times that detailed Zekelman’s attempts to influence the Trump administration. The administration went on to rule in favor of Zekelman Industries on a series of claims the company has made against foreign competitors. Sales and profits subsequently surged at the privately held company.

The FEC is the only government agency whose sole responsibility is overseeing the integrity of our political campaigns. Recent failures by the FEC to enforce campaign finance laws has resulted in an explosion in secret spending, threatening Americans’ First Amendment right to have their voices heard. By administering the third-largest fine in the agency’s history, the FEC this week took a rare step towards standing up for the rights of American voters.

At Campaign Legal Center, we are advancing democracy through law. Learn more about our work.