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Money & Influence 04.30.2019

Common Cause et al. v. Trump (Trump Tower Meeting Solicitation)

Legal Filings

On July 10, 2017, Common Cause filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that Donald Trump Jr., in his role with the Trump campaign, illegally solicited a political contribution from a foreign national—in the form of opposition research information he believed would be damaging to the Hillary Clinton campaign. Trump Jr. admitted to The New York Times that on June 9, 2016, he met with Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer who had promised him “damaging information about Hillary Clinton.” By that time his father had already secured the Republican nomination for President and Trump campaign chairman Paul J. Manfort also attended the meeting at Trump Tower as did Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner. Trump Jr. issued the statement to say that he had not in fact obtained the promised information but instead had been misled and lobbied on specific U.S.-Russian foreign policy issues. Nonetheless Trump Jr.’s meeting constitutes an illegal solicitation of a foreign national “contribution” by him and the Trump campaign. Federal campaign finance law defines “contribution” to include anything of value given for the purpose of influencing a federal election. And federal law prohibits any person from soliciting or receiving a contribution from a foreign national. On July 13, 2017, together with the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 amended and expanded its July 10 complaint, adding more facts and alleged violations. On April 30, 2019, Common Cause, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 filed a supplement to its 2017 complaint with the FEC, to include new facts and legal analysis from Special Counsel Mueller's report on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. Mueller's report underscores the validity of the allegations made in 2017 by Common Cause, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21.

Money & Influence 03.18.2019

Common Cause v. Cindy Yang et al.

Legal Filings

On March 18, 2019, Common Cause filed complaints with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging reason to believe that a Florida businesswoman violated campaign finance laws by enlisting and reimbursing “straw donors” tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions related to the reelection efforts of Donald Trump. The New York Times had reported on March 16 that Li Juan “Cindy” Yang appears to have recruited a number of employees and family members in order to meet the $50,000 price tag for a photo with President Trump at a Republican National Committee fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, FL in March 2018. According to the report several of the employees of massage parlors and other businesses associated with Yang who contributed $5,400 appeared to be of modest means – working as receptionists and giving facials – and atypical of contributors giving such large amounts to political campaigns or committees.

Money & Influence 01.10.2019

“Testing the Waters” or Diving Right In?: How Candidates Bend and Break Campaign Finance Laws in Presidential Campaigns

Research and Reports

This report is part of Common Cause’s 2020 Candidate Watch project, through which Common Cause will watchdog compliance with and enforcement of important campaign finance laws in the 2020 presidential election.

Money & Influence 09.25.2018

Washington Post v. McManus

Legal Filings

In August 2018, the Washington Post, Baltimore Sun and other local newspapers sued the state of Maryland challenging the constitutionality of the state’s recently-enacted campaign finance disclosure law that requires certain "online platforms" to collect and make available to the public information about groups and individuals that pay to place political ads on such online platforms.

Money & Influence 04.12.2018

DOJ & FEC Complaints Against President Trump, His Campaign & American Media Inc. for Illegal, Unreported $30K Coordinated Expenditure

Legal Filings

Common Cause filed complaints with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC), alleging reason to believe that President Trump, his 2016 presidential campaign, and American Media, Inc. (AMI) violated campaign contribution limits and reporting requirements through a December 2015 payment of $30,000 to a former doorman at a Trump property. The complaint alleges that the payment was made to squelch rumors of then-candidate Trump having fathered an illegitimate child with an employee at Trump World Tower in New York.

Money & Influence 03.26.2018

DOJ & FEC Complaints Filed Against Cambridge Analytica for Violating Prohibition on Election-Related Activities by Foreign Nationals in Work for Trump, Others

Legal Filings

Common Cause filed complaints with the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC), alleging reason to believe that Cambridge Analytica LTD and its sister company, SCL Group Limited, and numerous employees of the London-based companies repeatedly violated the prohibition on foreign nationals performing certain election-related activities over two U.S. election cycles – including extensive work for the Trump campaign.