|Jesse Benton meeting with undercover reporters.|
Jesse Benton's latest bungle may not go quietly into the night.
The Telegraph reports:
A leading campaign group supporting Donald Trump should face an official probe into its role in a fundraising scandal exposed by the Telegraph, one of the US’s most senior election lawyers said.
Lawrence Noble, who was general counsel at the US Federal Election Commission (FEC) for 13 years, said Jesse Benton, former chief strategist at the Great America PAC, was clearly “soliciting foreign national money” from a fictitious Chinese donor in recordings by undercover reporters.
His actions demonstrated “clear violations” of the Federal Election Campaign Act, which the PAC and Eric Beach, its co-chair, who referred Mr Benton to the reporters, could also have breached.
Mr Noble reviewed recordings of discussions with Mr Benton, who said he was acting as a “consultant” to the Great America PAC, one of the leading "independent" groups organising television advertisements and grassroots support for the Republican nominee.
On Monday the Telegraph exposed how Mr Benton had sought to channel $2 million (£1.6 million) from a Chinese donor into the PAC, one of the leading “independent” organisations supporting Mr Trump’s campaign. He said he had previously helped US donors conceal donations.
Having reviewed Mr Benton’s discussions with reporters, Mr Noble, who is now general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a DC-based advocacy group, said: “The scheme here is a scheme to launder foreign money to a super PAC, which is illegal. And it is very clear that the intention was that the money be given to help the Trump super PAC. It was agreed several times that the money would help the Trump super PAC.”
Mr Noble called for the actions of the PAC and Mr Benton to be examined by the Federal Election Commission and Department of Justice, saying: “I think there should be an investigation. No money changed hands but the solicitation of the money is illegal.
"He did say, however, that they've done a lot of funneling money for domestic [corporations or individuals]. So if in fact they've been soliciting from domestic corporations or individuals, US citizens, and it's been going through his company and then going through the C4 and then going to the super PAC, that's illegal too."
He added that the Campaign Legal Center was considering making a formal complaint to the authorities.