The editor of the National Enquirer has agreed: a $ 187,500 fine after the federal electoral commission found it “knowingly and willfully” violated campaign law by paying $ 150,000 to a model who said she had an affair with Donald Trump in order to remain silent during the 2016 presidential election to preserve, according to records released by a campaign finance monitoring group.
The FEC announced the penalty on Tuesday in correspondence with Common Cause, the Filed a complaint Against the Enquirer publisher AMI, Trump and the Trump campaign over the hush money payment to Karen McDougal after news of the supermarket newspaper’s unusual payment to silence a lewd story called “Catch and Kill” became public.
The complaint alleged that the payment was made “for the purpose of influencing the 2016 parliamentary elections”.
In one Letter to Common Cause Paul S. Ryan, vice president of Policy and Litigation, told the agency the board had “reason to believe” that AMI was violating campaign law, but “there were not enough votes to give reason to believe” that the remaining respondents “- the former president and the Trump election campaign -” are in violation of the Federal Campaign Act of 1971 “.
In one signed agreement With the FEC forwarded to Common Cause, an attorney for AMI’s successor A360 LLC agreed that the company would pay the fine and upheld “the Commission’s reasonable belief that these violations were knowledgeable and intentional,” but said that this is not the case to admit the knowing and deliberate aspect of these violations. “
The FEC is expected to publish its results within 30 days. The agency did not want to comment on the documents on Wednesday.
A360 and Trump officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Ryan hailed the fine on AMI as a “win for democracy” but said that “the FEC’s failure to hold former President Trump and his campaign accountable for this violation exposes the FEC’s dysfunction.”
“All other actors were held accountable, but still no responsibility for former President Trump,” said Ryan.
AMI had previously confirmed Pay McDougal, a Playboy model, under a non-prosecutor’s agreement with federal attorneys investigating former Trump attorney Michael Cohen for campaign violations.
Finally Cohen pleaded guilty to help orchestrate the payment to McDougal, as well as a payment to another woman, porn star Stormy Daniels, who said she slept with Trump on a federal criminal case that put him in jail.
Last month the FEC dropped an investigation into whether Trump should face sanctions for paying Daniels after two Republican commissioners voted against the procedure and a third withdrew. The Commissioners who voted against noted that the Commission was facing a significant backlog, arguing that the case was “limited risk” and “not the best use of the Agency’s resources”.
In a comment last month in the Washington Post, one of the Democratic commissioners, Ellen Weintraub, agreed that the agency had a lot of catching up to do, but asked, “Are we too busy to enforce the law against the former President of the United States for his brazen violation of campaign finance laws? on the eve of a presidential election? No.”
Trump has denied having relationships with the model and actress and defended the payments in a 2018 Interview with Fox News.
“They weren’t campaign funding,” he said. “They came from me,” added, “They did not come from the campaign.”
It is believed that the Manhattan Attorney’s Office made payments as part of their Investigation of the finances from Trump’s company Trump Organization.
The six-member FEC board of directors consists of three Republicans, two Democrats, and one Independent. Four commissioners have to agree for a case to go ahead.
Ryan said he was stunned by how the commission could vote for a fine against the Enquirer rather than Trump.
“It is a good use of funds to hold a tabloid to account, but not a former president. That is an amazing and absurd result,” he said.
Ben Kamisar contributed to this.