FEC fines Jeb Bush super PAC over foreign donation – POLITICO
The Federal Election Commission on Monday doled out $940,000 in fines to the super PAC that backed Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential bid and a Chinese-owned corporation that made illegal donations to it.
The unusually large FEC fines came after the commission found evidence Bush’s super PAC took money from a foreign national, which is prohibited under federal election law. The super PAC, Right to Rise, was fined $390,000 for the violation, while the FEC gave an additional $550,000 fine to American Pacific International Capital, Inc. The company had donated $1.3 million to Bush’s super PAC in the spring of 2015, as Bush was gearing up for a run for president.
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“Today’s action is a rare and remarkable step by the FEC, and a reminder that safeguarding our elections against foreign interference is in America’s vital national security interests,” said Trevor Potter, president of the Campaign Legal Center, which filed a complaint about the donations in August 2016 to the FEC. “This illegal $1.3 million contribution is unmistakable proof that Citizens United opened the floodgates to foreign money in the U.S., and it is surely the tip of the iceberg.”
The FEC did not find that the donations were “knowing and willful” violations of the law, according to new documents released on Monday.
The donation came after Jeb Bush’s brother Neil, who sits on the board of APIC, discussed a contribution in February 2015 with Gordon Tang, another APIC board member who is a Chinese national. In total, two Chinese nationals communicated about the donation, according to documents released by the FEC.
APIC gave $1 million to Right to Rise in March, and the company followed up with another $300,000 in June.
Federal law bans foreign nationals from donating in American elections and says that a foreign national can’t “direct, dictate, control, or directly or indirectly participate in” a corporation’s decision-making process around election-related activities. Because Neil Bush played a part soliciting the donations, both Right to Rise and APIC were fined.