A Democratic super PAC said Monday it would file a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission, accusing Donald J. Trump of violating the campaign finance law by spending political funds on a 2024 presidential bid without formally nominating himself. .
The complaint uses Mr Trump’s own words about a 2024 run: “I know what I’m going to do, but we’re not supposed to talk about it yet from the standpoint of campaign finance laws,” he said. in the fall. — accusing him of improperly using his existing political committees to promote a presidential election.
Federal rules require those who raise or spend more than $5,000 in support of a presidential campaign to register with the Federal Election Commission.
Trump has repeatedly teased that he plans to run for president again, saying at the Conservative Political Action Conference last month, “We’ve done it twice and we’ll do it again.” But while he formally applied for reelection on the day of his inauguration in 2017, Trump has not done so until 2024. Such a filing would put restrictions on how he could raise and spend campaign funds, including his existing war treasury.
Trump-controlled commissions entered 2022 with $122 million in the bank — far more than the Republican Party itself.
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“He should obey the law like all other candidates do,” said Jessica Floyd, the president of American Bridge, the Democratic group that files the complaint. “If he says, ‘I’m going to do it a third time,’ that’s not flirting. That is more than a toe dip.”
Ms Floyd noted that Mr Trump’s quotes about the campaign law show clear intentions to circumvent existing rules. “It’s not like he doesn’t know what he’s doing,” she said.
Taylor Budowich, a Trump spokesman, called the complaint frivolous.
“America is moving toward disaster from the failures of the Democrats, and instead of changing course, they are making frivolous complaints that are worth nothing,” he said.
Mr Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity in July 2021 that he had made a decision about another White House bid. A month later, he again told Fox News that it was “incredibly stupid” campaign finance laws that prevented him from expressing his intentions directly.
“Let me put it this way: I think you will be happy, and I think many of our friends will be very happy. But I can’t really answer it,” Trump said at the time. “It makes it very difficult when I do that.”
Nothing legally prohibits Mr Trump from declaring that he is running for president. But he would be subject to additional fundraising limits and disclosure requirements if he did.
Once a politician has decided to run for federal office and has started raising funds, the person must file paperwork to declare the candidacy. There is also an intermediate step for those who “test the waters of a run”.
The American Bridge complaint says Mr Trump has crossed both thresholds, though the line is notoriously blurry.
For now, Mr. Trump’s main PAC, called Save America, is registered as a commission that can spend on behalf of others, and the PAC has given away $350,000 to other candidates in 2021, although that amount is much less than the amount the PAC has. spent on Mr Trump’s property.
It seems unlikely the complaint will see a crackdown by the Federal Elections Commission, which is split evenly between commissioners affiliated with the Democratic and Republican parties, and often gets bogged down in contentious cases. The watchdog research process is also notoriously slow. A complaint to the commission regarding the pre-candidacy activities of Jeb Bush, who announced his candidacy for president in 2015, was still in court in December 2021.