Author Topic: Campaign Finance Violations  (Read 1653 times)

Dos Equis

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Campaign Finance Violations
« on: August 23, 2018, 07:21:49 PM »
Hard to figure out what is permissible or not, but what this guys says makes sense to me.

Cohen Pleaded Guilty to Charges That Are Not Crimes, Says Former FEC Chair
BY IVAN PENTCHOUKOV
Updated: August 23, 2018   

Michael Cohen, formerly an attorney for President Donald Trump, pleaded guilty on Aug. 21 to campaign finance charges that are not crimes, according to former Federal Elections Commission chair Bradley Smith.

Cohen pleaded guilty to eight charges in a Manhattan court to charges of tax evasion, making false statements to banks, and campaign finance violations. The campaign finance charges are related to a $130,000 payment Cohen made in exchange for the silence of a woman who claims to have had an affair with Trump more than a decade ago. The prosecutors allege that the payment constitutes a campaign contribution and thus violates the law because it exceeds the individual contribution limit and was made using a corporation.

In charging Cohen, the prosecutors cited a broad legal definition of what constitutes a campaign contribution but failed to mention a specific prohibition on the personal use of campaign funds, which disqualifies the payment as a contribution.

Under the broad definition in federal law, anything of value used to influence any election for federal office constitutes a campaign contribution. Yet a personal-use prohibition under the same law narrows the scope of what can be counted as a campaign expense to exclude all payments “that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign.”

“The prosecutors in these cases always want to just focus on the idea that it’s for the purpose of influencing the campaign,” Bradley said. “Many of them are not even aware of the other provision in this statute–the prohibition on personal use–that would seem to narrow that definition down.”

For example, a tailored suit might make the candidate look good on the campaign trail, but is an expense that would exist irrespective of his campaign for office, Bradley explained. The law specifically lists a number of examples of such expenses, including clothing purchases, country club memberships, or tickets to a sporting event.

Under the same statute, a payment securing the silence of a woman could also exist irrespective of the campaign. For example, such a payment can benefit the candidate’s personal business prospects and family life. Thus, Cohen’s payment is specifically prohibited from being counted as a campaign expense and is not a campaign contribution.

As an example, Bradley said that if Trump settled the lawsuits against Trump University with the intention of benefiting his campaign, the settlement would clearly not count as a campaign expense, since the lawsuit existed irrespective of the campaign and the settlement could exist for other reasons.

“When you run for office and you buy TV ads, or you rent a campaign headquarters office space, or you hire a campaign manager or a campaign accountant, or you buy phones your staffers are to use on the campaign, those are all things done because you’re running for office,” Bradley said.

“There are many other things that you do or that you spend money on that benefit your campaign, that you may even plan on them benefitting your campaign, hope that they benefit your campaign, but they are not campaign expenditures because they’re obligations that would potentially exist whether you were running for office or not.”

The distinction between what is and what is not a campaign expense is crucial for preventing candidates from using campaign funds for anything other than their campaigns—like a new car or a gold watch—with the intention of personally benefiting from the purchase.

“Michael Cohen plead [sic] guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime,” Trump wrote on Twitter on Aug. 22. “President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!”


Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump
 Michael Cohen plead guilty to two counts of campaign finance violations that are not a crime. President Obama had a big campaign finance violation and it was easily settled!

3:37 AM - Aug 22, 2018
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Smith agreed with the president.

“My assessment would be that yes, Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to things that probably are not crimes,” Smith said.

In his message, Trump referred back to a $375,000 fine for campaign finance violations paid by then-President Barack Obama, one the largest fines ever imposed on a presidential campaign.

Judges have struggled for years with the broad definition the prosecutors are citing in the Cohen case. In 2012, former Sen. John Edwards was charged with campaign violations in connection to payments to a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair. The trial revolved largely around what constitutes a campaign expense. The jury could not reach a verdict and the Justice Department dropped the case.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1976 to strictly narrow the definition of what constituted an independent campaign expenditure in terms of speech. The broad scope of the law as it stood before the ruling imposed “direct and substantial restraints on the quantity of political speech” and was “unconstitutionally vague,” the court said.

“The courts have always faced a challenge in how do we narrow that definition down to something that is actually usable, that doesn’t leave everybody on the hook for everything they do that’s connected to politics,” Smith said.

In pleading guilty, Cohen said that Trump instructed him to make the payment to the woman in question. But the plea is not a binding legal precedent, according to Smith.

“It doesn’t affect the ability of the Trump folks to raise defenses,” he said.

https://www.theepochtimes.com/former-fec-chair-cohen-pleaded-guilty-to-charges-that-are-not-crimes_2630891.html

Dos Equis

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Re: Campaign Finance Violations
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2018, 10:29:21 AM »
Dershowitz: Candidate Entitled To Pay Hush Money, Committed No Election Crime
Posted By Ian Schwartz
On Date August 22, 2018

Alan Dershowitz said the only campaign violation that could have happened is if former Trump attorney Michael Cohen did break a campaign finance law on his own volution and called the situation a "Catch-22" on MSNBC this afternoon.

MSNBC HOST: Can I ask about a couple things, Alan? .. You said last night, 'All Cohen has to do is say the president directed me to do it. That's the kind of embellishment people put on a story when they want to avoid dying in prison.' Are you suggesting Cohen lied under oath?

ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Well, we don't know. All we know is what Judge Ellis said.
Judge Ellis said is when you put pressure on somebody like Cohen, there is an incentive to embellish the story and make it better because he's now facing 4 years. So if he comes up with strong evidence against the president that will be reduced to 2 years, 3 years, or 1 year. ...

I have no idea whether Cohen is telling the truth or not, but the interesting thing is, if Cohen is telling the truth it's a catch-22 for the prosecution. Let me lay this out for 60 seconds...

Here's the issue: The president is entitled to pay hush money to anyone he wants during a campaign. There are no restrictions on what a candidate can contribute to his own campaign. So if, in fact, the president directed Cohen to do it as his lawyer and was going to compensate him for it, the president committed no crime. if Cohen did it on his own --

MSNBC HOST: That seems awfully convoluted, Alan.

DERSHOWITZ: -- then Cohen commits the crime.

It's convoluted. The law is convoluted.

MSNBC HOST: Prosecutors have said Michael Cohen broke the law and Michael Cohen says, the president told me to do it. You said last night, as well that you every president breaks the law during an election. Really? Does that make it okay?

DERSHOWITZ: No. I said --

MSNBC HOST: Your quote is every candidate violates election laws when they run for president.

DERSHOWITZ: Let me tell you what I said.

MSNBC HOST: I just told you.

DERSHOWITZ: Candidates violate election laws all the time, go back to any campaign's campaign violations.

MSNBC HOST: But does that make it okay?

DERSHOWITZ: No, it doesn't, but let be very clear.

MSNBC HOST: Isn't that moving the goalposts?

DERSHOWITZ: You're not letting me make my point.

MSNBC HOST: All yours.

DERSHOWITZ: The president doesn't break the law if, as a candidate, he contributes to his own campaign. So if he gave $1 million to two women as hush money, there would be in crime. If he directed his lawyer to do it, and he would compensate the lawyer, he's committed no crime.

The only crime is if a third-party, namely, Cohen, on his own, contributed to a campaign, that would be a campaign contribution. So it is a catch-22 for the prosecution. iI they claim that the president authorized him to do it or directed him to do it, it is not a crime for anybody. If Cohen did it on his own, then it is a crime for Cohen but not the president.

This is going to be a very difficult case for the prosecution to make, precisely because the laws on election are so convoluted.

https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2018/08/22/dershowitz_candidate_entitled_to_pay_hush_money_committed_no_election_crime.html

Desolate

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Re: Campaign Finance Violations
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2018, 10:51:52 AM »
Yes.

Brilliant legal minds like Alan Dershowitz and Mark Levin say it is nothing.

It is nothing.

Dos Equis

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Re: Campaign Finance Violations
« Reply #3 on: August 24, 2018, 10:57:27 AM »
Yes.

Brilliant legal minds like Alan Dershowitz and Mark Levin say it is nothing.

It is nothing.

I agree overall.  I don't agree with everything Dershowitz and Levin say, but they are usually spot on.  Plus you have the former FEC Chair saying the same thing. 

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Re: Campaign Finance Violations
« Reply #4 on: August 24, 2018, 11:14:56 AM »
Dershowitz may be one of the only five honest liberals on the face of the planet.

Dos Equis

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Re: Campaign Finance Violations
« Reply #5 on: August 24, 2018, 11:22:17 AM »
Dershowitz may be one of the only five honest liberals on the face of the planet.

I've been saying he might be the last honest liberal in D.C.  He is the only one I hear sounding the alarm about the shredding of the Constitution and trampling of civil liberties with this whole spying and FISA abuse.

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Re: Campaign Finance Violations
« Reply #6 on: August 24, 2018, 11:39:54 AM »
Yes.

Brilliant legal minds like Alan Dershowitz and Mark Levin say it is nothing.

It is nothing.


that's great news for Trump

He has nothing to worry about

I'm sure he'll feel much better after seeing this

Desolate

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Re: Campaign Finance Violations
« Reply #7 on: August 24, 2018, 11:50:22 AM »
He wasn't worried in the first place.

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Re: Campaign Finance Violations
« Reply #8 on: August 24, 2018, 05:51:54 PM »
I agree overall.  I don't agree with everything Dershowitz and Levin say, but they are usually spot on.  Plus you have the former FEC Chair saying the same thing. 
But "Straw Man" on getbig says Trump is GOING DOWN!!!! Again.
Liar!!!!Filt!!!!

Dos Equis

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Re: Campaign Finance Violations
« Reply #9 on: August 24, 2018, 06:26:09 PM »
But "Straw Man" on getbig says Trump is GOING DOWN!!!! Again.

People trying to speak it into existence.

This guy in a group I run with started talking politics with me and said Trump has committed many crimes.  I said what crimes has he committed?  He responded by saying which ones do you want me to talk about?  I said just name one and we can discuss it.  I kid you not, he got upset, threw his hands in the air, said "I'm done.  I'm holding people who support Trump responsible for supporting him."  I seriously laughed out loud.  We continued the conversation and it did not end well for him, but I was never upset, etc.  These people really have lost their minds. 

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Re: Campaign Finance Violations
« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2019, 09:47:49 PM »
Wasn't this supposed to be the end of Trump? 

Judge: Michael Cohen campaign finance probe over   
LARRY NEUMEISTER
Associated Press•July 17, 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — Federal prosecutors have told a judge in New York they have concluded their investigation into campaign finance crimes committed by President Donald Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

The closure of the case is the strongest suggestion yet that federal prosecutors have decided not to bring criminal charges against anyone besides Cohen in the scheme to use hush-money payments to protect Trump's reputation during the 2016 presidential campaign.

U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III made the disclosure in a court filing Wednesday as part of a legal fight over whether to unseal search warrant materials dealing with the investigation.

For months, prosecutors had asked that the documents remain sealed because they were still probing payments Cohen helped orchestrate to two women — porn actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy centerfold Karen McDougal — who claimed they had affairs with Trump.

While Cohen pleaded guilty last August to charges that the payoffs amounted to illegal campaign contributions, others involved remained uncharged, including Trump himself and executives at the Trump Organization and American Media Inc., the company that owns the National Enquirer.

Now, though, prosecutors have informed the court in a sealed filing that they've concluded the investigation, clearing the way for the release of documents related to the case.

The judge rejected a request by prosecutors to black out portions of the documents to protect third-party privacy interests, saying the records involved "a matter of national importance."

"Now that the Government's investigation into those violations has concluded, it is time that every American has an opportunity to scrutinize the materials," Pauley wrote.

He ordered the government to put the search warrant records related to searches of Cohen's residence and office in the public record by 11 a.m. Thursday.

Trump has denied any sexual relationship with Daniels and McDougal and said any payments made to them were private in nature and not related to his campaign.

"We are pleased that the investigation surrounding these ridiculous campaign finance allegations is now closed," Trump's lawyer, Jay Sekulow, said Wednesday. "We have maintained from the outset that the President never engaged in any campaign finance violation."

The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan declined to comment and wouldn't answer questions about whether the completion of the investigation meant that no one else would be charged.

In December, Pauley sentenced Cohen to three years in prison for crimes including the campaign finance violations, lying to Congress and tax evasion.

He began serving the sentence in May, saying at the time it was an injustice that he was going to prison for crimes that benefited Trump.

In previous court filings, federal prosecutors in New York appeared to implicate Trump directly, saying that he directed Cohen to make the hush money payments.

However, the Justice Department has held that sitting presidents cannot be charged in the federal criminal justice system and instead can only be punished for misdeeds by Congress through the impeachment process.

"Case closed?" asked Cohen's spokesman, Lanny Davis, in a statement questioning why Cohen was the only member of Trump's company to be prosecuted and imprisoned.

"Especially since prosecutors found that virtually all of Michael's admitted crimes were done at the direction of and for the benefit of Donald Trump. Why?" Davis said.

The records to be unsealed include search warrant applications that federal prosecutors made to judges in New York when they sought permission to raid Cohen's home and office. In them, they outlined some of the evidence they had gathered about his alleged crimes.

Some of the documents were released publicly previously, but large sections related to the campaign finance probe were blacked out.

In requesting the records, The Associated Press and eight other media organizations had cited high public interest and a right to access.

Prosecutors had initially opposed the request, saying disclosure "would jeopardize an ongoing investigation and prejudice the privacy rights of uncharged third parties."

News organizations in the legal action to unseal the documents included the AP, The New York Times and the parent companies of ABC and CBS News, CNN, the Daily News, The Wall Street Journal, Newsday and the New York Post.

Pauley said the record should be "unredacted in its entirety" except for limited references in a footnote to an uncharged third-party and the names of law enforcement investigators, references to individuals purportedly engaged in business transactions or contemplated business transactions with Cohen relating to his taxi business.

https://news.yahoo.com/judge-michael-cohen-campaign-finance-152935457.html