Common Cause Urges Congress to Investigate Hush Money Payment Arranged by Trump’s Personal Lawyer

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  • David Vance

Today, Common Cause called on Congress to uphold its oversight responsibilities and investigate what appears to be a hush money payment to an adult film actress arranged by President Trump’s personal attorney just prior to the 2016 election. The call follows complaints filed yesterday with the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission.

In a letter to the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, and the Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee, Common Cause urged investigation of the payment of $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford (a.k.a. Stormy Daniels), through an LLC, to determine whether it was an unreported in-kind contribution to and expenditure by President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign committee in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act. The letter also asks the committees to determine whether the payment was made by the Trump Organization or some other corporation or individual, which would additionally make it an illegal in-kind contribution to the campaign. Corporations are prohibited from contributing to federal candidates and individual contributions are limited to $2,700.

The payment came to light when The Wall Street Journal broke the story of the payment to Clifford for a nondisclosure agreement related to an affair the adult film star is reported to have had with the President. Essential Consultants LLC was created just weeks before the election by Trump attorney Michael Cohen apparently for the sole purpose of hiding the payment for Clifford’s silence.

“Transparency is a key safeguard to the integrity of our democracy and the American people deserve to learn the truth behind any secret payment arranged by the president’s personal attorney just weeks before the election,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause. “Our nation’s campaign finance laws stem from a series of national scandals from the Teapot Dome scandal to Watergate and they are not optional. They were written to protect the integrity of our democracy, and they must be enforced.”

“Congress needs to uphold its oversight responsibilities when it comes to the executive branch rather than ignore apparent lawbreaking,” said Aaron Scherb, Common Cause director of legislative affairs. “When necessary, holding the executive branch accountable is a key role of the legislative branch no matter what party is in power in the White House or on Capitol Hill.”

To read the letter, click here

To read the DOJ complaint, click here.  

To read the FEC complaint, click here.