CLC Complaint Targets Straw Donor That's Been Making Political Contributions Since 2015

A $100 bill seen through torn paper.

Voters have a right to know who is spending to influence their vote, and CLC is committed to protecting that right by filing complaints urging the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to investigate straw donors — including shell companies used to funnel political contributions to super PACs while avoiding the legally required disclosure of the true contributor’s identity.

To uphold transparency, the FEC must robustly enforce the federal straw donor ban.

That’s why CLC has filed a complaint against Tread Standard LLC, a shell company used to make two super PAC contributions totaling $125,000 — $100,000 to “34N22, Inc.” and $25,000 to “South Florida Residents First” — without disclosing the true contributors, who appear to have given the money through Tread Standard to hide their identities.

Tread Standard has no known investments, assets, commercial activity or income. Yet it has previously been reported as the source of $380,000 in contributions to Florida PACs supporting state and local candidates, including $210,000 to help reelect Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022, as well as $175,000 in older super PAC contributions.

In the seven years since it was organized in April 2015, Tread Standard has been reported as the source of $680,000 in federal, state and local political contributions. All of the nonfederal contributions funneled through Tread Standard went to PACs supporting Florida candidates.

And of the money funneled into federal elections over the past seven years, over half went to super PACs supporting two candidates tied to the state — former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign and former Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s 2020 congressional campaign.

An LLC with no investments, assets, income or commercial activity would not be able to make $125,000 in super PAC contributions over the past two years — much less $680,000 in total contributions over seven years — unless it was getting that money from someone else to do it.

This leaves little doubt that the true contributors have been funneling money to super PACs through Tread Standard, repeatedly and brazenly violating federal campaign finance law.

What is most concerning: Tread Standard was previously accused of violating the federal straw donor ban in a 2015 FEC complaint.

The FEC deadlocked in that matter, as it so often does, but even the Commissioners that voted against taking enforcement action stated that the public is on notice that the agency will investigate “whether the funds used to make a contribution were intentionally funneled” through an LLC “for the purpose of making a contribution that evades the Act’s reporting requirements.”

That is exactly what appears to have happened, repeatedly, with Tread Standard LLC.

It is time for the FEC to stand behind its words: It should investigate these LLC straw donations, enforce the federal straw donor ban and uphold the transparency that preserves voters’ right to know who is spending on elections. 

Saurav is the Director, Federal Campaign Finance Reform at CLC.
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