Conservative author and radio-TV host Mark Levin interviewed the former FEC Chairman on his show.
Professor Bradley Smith said the payment Cohen pled guilty to DO NOT qualify as campaign violations.
Last night Mark Levin interviewed a former FEC Chairman who explained why a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels cannot be considered an in kind contribution to the Trump campaign, thus violating campaign finance law.
Via The Right Scoop:
“When the FEC wrote the regulation that says what constitutes campaign expenditures and what constitutes personal use, it rejected specifically the idea that a campaign expenditure was anything related to a campaign, and instead says it has to be something that exists only because of the campaign and solely for that reason.”
Here’s the audio:
Professor Bradley Smith wrote about this in the Wall Street Journal in April.
Shortly before the 2016 election, one of President Trump’s lawyers, Michael Cohen, arranged a $130,000 payment to the porn star in return for silence about a 2006 affair she claimed to have had with Mr. Trump. (Both the president and Mr. Cohen have denied the affair; Mr. Trump has said he did not know of the payment to Ms. Daniels until this February.)
Not satisfied with an old-fashioned sex scandal—perhaps because the president seems impervious to that—some want to turn this into a violation of campaign-finance law. Trevor Potter, a former member of the Federal Election Commission told “60 Minutes” the payment was “a $130,000 in-kind contribution by Cohen to the Trump campaign, which is about $126,500 above what he’s allowed to give.” The FBI raided Mr. Cohen’s office, home and hotel room Monday. They reportedly seized records related to the payment and are investigating possible violations of campaign-finance laws.
But let’s remember a basic principle of such laws: Not everything that might benefit a candidate is a campaign expense.
Campaign-finance law aims to prevent corruption. For this reason, the FEC has a longstanding ban on “personal use” of campaign funds. Such use would give campaign contributions a material value beyond helping to elect the candidate—the essence of a bribe.
FEC regulations explain that the campaign cannot pay expenses that would exist “irrespective” of the campaign, even if it might help win election. At the same time, obligations that would not exist “but for” the campaign must be paid from campaign funds.
If paying hush money is a campaign expense, a candidate would be required to make that payment with campaign funds. How ironic, given that using campaign funds as hush money was one of the articles of impeachment in the Watergate scandal, which gave rise to modern campaign-finance law.