WASHINGTON (May 17, 2023) – Today, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) and NRDC Action Votes, a super PAC affiliated with the NRDC Action Fund, filed a supplemental complaint (linked here) with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that former President Donald Trump and his leadership PAC, Save America, violated provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) that prohibit federal candidates from raising and spending “soft money” that does not comply with federal contribution limits, source prohibitions and reporting requirements, in federal elections.
This filing follows CLC’s initial complaint (linked here) originally filed on November 14th, 2022, which detailed Trump’s post-White House fundraising and subsequent illegal transfer from Save America to the super PAC Make America Great Again, Inc. as well as spending by that super PAC in the 2022 midterm elections totaling nearly $12 million. MAGA, Inc. has continued spending in the current election cycle, pouring over $11 million into ads.
CLC and NRDC Action Votes are supplementing the original complaint based on new information discovered in the months since the filing of the original complaint. Specifically, disclosure reports reflect a drastic increase in the amount of illegal money transferred from the leadership PAC to the super PAC, bringing the total amount in violation to $60 million dollars.
“When federal candidates themselves sidestep laws designed to reduce political corruption and provide transparency about who is spending on elections, they undermine our election system and damage voter trust,” said Erin Chlopak, senior director for campaign finance at CLC. “Even before former President Trump publicly announced his 2024 candidacy, he had made it clear, through statements and actions, that he planned to run again. He became a federal candidate well before his leadership PAC gave $60 million dollars to a super PAC poised to support candidates he endorsed in the 2022 midterms and to support his own 2024 candidacy. That ‘soft money’ injection into a federal election was a violation of federal law, and he must be held accountable.”
“Pro-environment candidates already face an onslaught of special interest spending aimed at stopping progress on clean energy. When that spending also violates the law, it’s the FEC’s job to hold accountable anyone who tries to rig the political system in their favor and drown out the voices of the rest of us,” said Kevin S. Curtis, executive director of NRDC Action Votes.
The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA, sometimes referred to as McCain-Feingold) prohibits federal candidates and any associated entities (including committees such as leadership PACs) from soliciting, receiving, directing, transferring or spending “soft money” in connection with a federal election. Despite his delay in filing a statement of candidacy, publicly available information — including Trump’s own public statements and fundraising activity — confirmed that he became a candidate well before he transferred funds from his leadership PAC to MAGA, Inc. and was therefore subject to BCRA’s restrictions when he made that transfer.
The FEC is responsible for enforcing federal campaign finance laws and it must act in this case and hold Trump and Save America accountable.
NRDC Action Votes is an independent expenditure political committee affiliated with the NRDC Action Fund. It works to avert dangerous climate change, support healthy people and thriving communities, and conserve and protect nature and wildlife.
Campaign Legal Center is a nonpartisan organization that advocates for every eligible voter to meaningfully participate in the democratic process. CLC uses tactics such as litigation, policy advocacy and communications to make systemic impact at all levels of government.