FEC: Complaint Filed Against Pras Michel and Super PAC Black Men Vote for Apparent “Straw Donor” Contributions of $875,000
Today, the Campaign Legal Center, with Democracy 21, will urge the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate possible violations of campaign finance laws by rap artist Pras Michel, his company SPM Holdings LLC, the Super PAC Black Men Vote and its Treasurer, William Kirk Jr. relating to “straw donor” contributions totaling $875,000 made by Pras Michel to Black Men Vote in the name of SPM Holdings LLC.
The complaint to the FEC and letter to DOJ ask the agencies to formally investigate the activities of Mr. Michel and SPM Holdings LLC for apparent violations of the ban on making contributions “in the name of another” and of Mr. Kirk and Black Men Vote for knowingly accepting “straw donor” contributions and misreporting the source of the funds to the FEC. According to a story from the Center for Public Integrity, Pras Michel admitted that SPM Holdings LLC is “just a holding company to do my everyday business through.”
Mr. Michel made contributions to Black Men Vote in his own name, but the money he gave through SPM Holdings LLC made up more than two-thirds of the total budget of the Super PAC. The complaint outlines reason to believe that Mr. Michel knowingly made “contributions in the name of another” and that those contributions were accepted by the Super PAC and its treasurer Mr. Kirk who knew the true identity of the donors in violation of the law.
“This seems a clear cut violation of the straw donor prohibition, complete with a confession, and the FEC needs to act to uphold the law in order to prevent wholesale evasion of disclosure laws,” said Paul S. Ryan, FEC Program Director at the Campaign Legal Center, which took the lead in drafting the FEC complaint and letter to the Justice Department. “Increasingly LLCs and other business entities are being utilized by political donors to launder money and hide their true identities. If the practice is not stopped by the FEC or the Justice Department, it will serve as a green light to lawbreakers seeking to buy influence with politicians while keeping the public in the dark.”
To read the FEC complaint, click here.
To read the letter to the Department of Justice, click here.