So-called Trump Campaign Finance Violations Are a Fallacy

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Democrat leaders and their allies in the media have momentarily dropped the Trump-Russia collusion narrative from their playbooks and are instead talking about purported campaign finance violations.

In fact, some Democrats such as Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y. are attempting to characterize their latest campaign finance meme as constituting an impeachable offense.

To claim that the payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy playmate Karen McDougal would be impeachable offenses, one would have to ignore both the law and historical practices.

During former President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, some real and arguably more serious violations of campaign finance law were treated as civil matters, resulting only in penalties paid to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

According to the Washington Post, in 2008 Obama’s campaign allowed donors to use untraceable prepaid credit cards, which are capable of being utilized to evade campaign finance restrictions. Obama’s campaign additionally failed to employ basic verification and security procedures to prevent illegal donations to the campaign.

Years after the 2008 election, the Obama campaign paid a $375,000 fine, one of the largest ever levied against a presidential campaign but otherwise walked away from the violation. Impeachment was never a topic of discussion.

Despite claims by panelists on cable news shows, the current Trump campaign finance narrative contains serious flaws when it comes to the law.

According to the Federal Election Campaign Act, in order to constitute violations the payments to the two women would have to have been implemented “for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal Office” and not for a personal use.

The law stipulates that a personal use, as opposed to a campaign use, occurs when funds are “used to fulfill any commitment, obligation, or expense of a person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s election campaign.”

President Trump’s company, which is branded with his name, his celebrity status, and his need to protect his family, all point to the personal component of the payments as opposed to a campaign related one. Moreover, the necessity for the payments preceded his announcement to run for president.

Former FEC Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky is in agreement, having told Fox News, “The blackmail threat by Daniels and McDougal to reveal their claims would exist whether or not Trump was running for office.”

Former FEC Chairman Bradley Smith told Fox News, “Even if it [the payment] was intended to have some influence on the campaign, that’s not the standard. The standard is: ‘Does the obligation exist because you’re running for office?’”

Smith wrote in the National Review that the president’s “alleged decade-old affairs occurred long before he became a candidate for president and were not caused by his run for president.”

As Smith noted, engaging in activities such as polling, purchasing ads, and printing bumper stickers are expenditures that seek to influence an election, however “paying hush money to silence allegations of decade-old affairs is not.”

In a somewhat similar but stronger case, which involved former presidential candidate and Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards, prosecutors attempted to prove that payments made during a presidential run were intended to assist Edwards’s electoral chances, claiming that they were made to protect his public image. Yet, in that case the prosecution could not persuade a jury that Edwards had made campaign related payments. After an acquittal of the main charge and a mistrial on other charges, the case was not pursued by the Justice Department, and Edwards was never retried.

Seeing a similar result with the case against President Trump, von Spakovsky wrote in a Fox News editorial, “Convicting Donald Trump of a criminal campaign finance violation will be extremely difficult, if not impossible. Just as Edwards was found not guilty, the same is likely to happen to President Trump if he is charged while he is president or after he leaves the White House.”

In a potential prosecution of the president, an additional problem involves evidence of the president’s mindset at the time the payments were made. The level of intent that must be proved in a campaign finance prosecution is that the alleged misconduct is committed knowingly and willfully, which is an extremely challenging element of the case for prosecutors, who must prove that a defendant intended to violate the law.

Because the Federal Election Commission does not consider payments made to a mistress to be an expenditure covered by the federal campaign law, it is not possible for a defendant to have made such a payment with knowledge that it was an unlawful violation.

In other words, the president cannot be charged with a knowing and willful violation of the law under these facts, since the Federal Election Commission and legal experts who served on the commission determined that such payments are not campaign finance violations in the first place.

 

Democrats’ Policies of Past Match President Trump’s Present

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When it comes to the issue of immigration, a lot of Democrats are singing a different tune than the one the Party sang in the past.

The current crop of Democrat leaders are advocating for open borders, throwing their support behind so-called sanctuary cities and states, seeking to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants, and believe it or not, actively engaging in voter registration of non-citizens. Some leaders are even pushing to completely abolish ICE, the very agency responsible for enforcing border security.

As a result of some of the policies that the Trump administration has implemented, especially the policies that attempt to enforce the rule of law, a sizable segment of the Hollywood community thinks, most likely erroneously, that they have found a safe opening through which they can enter the political arena. The safe opening to which I refer is what left-wing activists have labeled the “separation of families.”

In truth, President Trump put an end to the separation practice implemented by the Obama administration; however, this fact has been ignored by members of the Hollywood left, which like so many other individuals and groups, are increasingly becoming unglued.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, George and Amal Clooney mused aloud about whether children of the future would ask if our country took babies away from their parents and “put them in detention centers…”

Ellen DeGeneres posted that “we can’t be a country that separates children from their parents.”

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Willie Nelson opined, “What’s going on at our southern border is outrageous…What happened to ‘Bring us your tired and weak…’”

Jim Carrey posted a cartoon painting of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in front of a chain link cage.

Jessica Chastain asked, “Are we really such monsters?”

Mark Hamill tweeted a political cartoon of children in cages.

As a tribute to her father, Anne Hathaway made a donation to Americans For Immigrant Justice for the purpose of honoring “all the fathers torn from their children…”

J.K. Rowling tweeted, “The screams reverberating around the world are coming from terrified children in cages.”

The intriguing thing is that a short time ago Democrats had an entirely different perspective on immigration. In fact, many sounded as if they were partially, and in some cases even totally, in accord with the views of the Trump administration.

Back in 1993 Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said, “The day when America could be the welfare system for Mexico is gone. We simply can’t afford it.”

That same year former senator from Nevada Harry Reid said, “…the American people think our immigration policies are a joke when we select 40,000 new immigrants a year by lottery.” Reid also stated that Americans were concerned about immigration laws because the “net costs of legal and illegal immigration to all levels of government” would be a ridiculously large, a whopping “$45 billion over the next decade.”

In 1994 Feinstein again chimed in on the immigration issue with a political ad showing illegal immigrants crossing the border. She also promised to deal with illegal immigration with more “agents, fencing, lighting, and other equipment.”

In 1995 Bill Clinton said, “It is wrong and ultimately self-defeating for a nation of immigrants to permit the kind of abuse of our immigration laws we have seen in recent years, and we must do more to stop it.” The former president also stated that the jobs illegal immigrants obtain “might otherwise be held by citizens,” and that illegal immigrants “impose burdens on our taxpayers.”

In 1998 then-congressman Chuck Schumer put out a call for New York’s Attorney General to “bar students from nations designated as terrorist sponsors.” He also insisted that students should not be “using American universities as terrorism training academies.”

President Trump recently tweeted a 2005 video in which then-senator Barack Obama said, “Those who enter the country illegally and those who employ them disrespect the rule of law and they are showing disregard for those who are following the law.” Obama added, “We simply cannot allow people to pour into the United States undetected, undocumented, unchecked, and circumventing the line of people who are waiting patiently, diligently and lawfully to become immigrants into this country.”

In 2006 then-senator Obama wrote, “When I see Mexican flags waved at pro-immigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment.” That same year, Obama suggested that “better fences and better security along our borders” would “help stem some of the tide of illegal immigration in this country.”

Also in 2006, a majority of Senate Democrats voted in favor of legislation for the construction of 700 miles of fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border.

In 2007 Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) railed against “…allowing corporate interests to drive wages down by importing more and more people into this country to do the work that Americans should be doing.”

In 2008 the Democratic platform warned, “We cannot continue to allow people to enter the United States undetected, undocumented, and unchecked.”

And again, in 2008, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi addressed the “challenge” of illegal immigrants, saying that “we certainly do not want any more coming in.”

In 2009 Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that “when we use phrases like ‘undocumented workers,’ we convey a message to the American people that their government is not serious about combating illegal immigration.”

In 2013 former President Obama promised to put illegal immigrants “to the back of the line behind the folks trying to come here legally.” And in 2014 he said that an “influx of mostly low-skill workers” threatens “the wages of blue-collar Americans” and “put strains on an already overburdened safety net.”

By 2016 Democrat Party leaders had eliminated from their platform and speeches all talk of border security as they seemingly became convinced that the size of the legal and illegal immigrant population had given them enough electoral leverage to abandon working class Americans.

Most of today’s Democrats are deliberately embracing sovereignty-destroying open border policies and intentionally favoring those who are in the country illegally over their own citizen constituents, which means they have gone further left than pretty much anyone in the Party’s past could ever have imagined.

Media Ignores Election Law Violations Related to Facebook’s Obama Campaign Connection

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Facebook is feeling the wrath of left-wing organizations and mainstream media outlets as a result of a recently publicized data breach, which involved the unauthorized gathering of Facebook users’ data by a British consulting firm that worked for then-presidential candidate Donald J. Trump.

When it publicly became known that Cambridge Analytica, a firm that worked for the Trump campaign, harvested data from 50 million Facebook users, the news triggered intense reactions from a broad range of Democrats and others of a liberal persuasion. Curiously, there was no such similar anger expressed when former President Barack Obama’s presidential campaign was supplied Facebook data to use for political purposes.

The media quickly glommed on to the Cambridge Analytica story, using it as one more opportunity to excuse Hillary Clinton for her embarrassing presidential campaign loss.

Virtually ignored by the mainstream media, however, was and still is the manner in which the Obama campaign extensively utilized social network data in previous election cycles.

Recently, the hashtag #DeleteFacebook broke out on the social media, and a sizable number of celebrities and high-profile companies suspended their Facebook advertising and some even ceased using Facebook altogether.

–In a Facebook post, actor and comedian Will Ferrell announced that he was going to delete his Facebook account. “I’m reaching out to let you know that in 72 hours I will be deleting my Facebook account,” Ferrell wrote, indicating that he was not deleting it immediately, in order to give his message enough time to reach his fans and followers. He specifically cited, in his words, Cambridge Analytica’s “misuse of millions of Facebook users’ information in order to undermine our democracy and infringe on our citizens’ privacy.”

–Singer-actress Cher used her Twitter account to inform her followers that she was deleting her Facebook account.

–British hip-hop duo Massive Attack made an exit from the social platform.

–Elon Musk deleted the Facebook pages of his companies, Tesla and SpaceX.

–Playboy followed suit.

–Mozilla, creator of the Firefox browser, stated it would stop advertising on Facebook. The company also launched a new Firefox browser extension, which blocks Facebook’s ability to track activities on other websites that have integrated with the social network.

–Auto parts giant Pep Boys, Germany’s second-largest bank Commerzbank, and Electronics manufacturer Sonos halted their advertising on the social media platform as well.

It appears as though the indignation expressed by liberals and the mainstream media has little to do with Facebook’s misuse of data but almost everything to do with their visceral hatred for President Trump.

Meanwhile, what appears to continually be being given a pass is a far more egregious breach of privacy.

In 2012 Facebook presented to the reelection campaign of then-President Obama the data, free of charge, of about 190 million people. This is four-times the amount of people whose privacy was breached in the Cambridge Analytica matter.

Carol Davidsen, former media director for Obama for America, publicly stated that Facebook freely allowed the 2012 Obama campaign “direct access to the personal data of Facebook users, in violation of its internal rules, making a special exception for the campaign.”

Davidsen posted on Twitter that Facebook “came to [the] office in the days following election recruiting & were very candid that they allowed us to do things they wouldn’t have allowed someone else to do because they were on our side.”

Political campaigns customarily must pay for access to the above-referenced kind of data. Under federal law, corporations cannot make contributions to federal candidates. This prohibition includes not only cash, but “anything of value.” Corporations therefore cannot provide federal candidates with free services of any type. Such free services are categorized under election law by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) as “in-kind contributions.”

When Facebook gave the Obama campaign free access to data, when it would have customarily charged fees for such access, the social media giant may conceivably have violated a federal prohibition on corporate in-kind contributions. Additionally, the Obama campaign may have broken the law by accepting the in-kind corporate contribution.

In contrast, the Trump campaign does not appear to have this kind of legal exposure because it actually did pay Cambridge Analytica for its services.

Hans von Spakovsky, a former member of the FEC, contends that the data transfer by Facebook to the Obama campaign is unlawful, and could even be a matter for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate.

These potential violations of federal campaign finance laws by Facebook and the Obama campaign are serious enough to warrant a much deeper investigation. Campaign finance laws are enforced administratively by the FEC, and civil fines can be imposed; however, the DOJ has concurrent criminal jurisdiction over violations of campaign finance laws.

As von Spakovsky reasoned, “It [the Facebook transfer of data to the Obama campaign] should be investigated by the Federal Election Commission and potentially the U.S. Department of Justice.”

Unconstitutional DACA Must Go

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Numerous reports indicate that President Donald J. Trump is rescinding the program called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

DACA was unconstitutionally created by the Obama administration. The program violates Separation of Powers, undermines the sovereignty of the United States, and represents the worst of policy decisions. In short, DACA needs to be completely eliminated.

After the press initially raised the notion that the Trump administration may jettison DACA, the left immediately referred to the potential action as bigoted and mean. Attorneys general from the states of New York and Washington also let it be known that lawsuits would be filed against the White House.

Recently, partisan attorneys general from both states issued statements that contained threats of such imminent legal action and condemned the expected rescission action. The very same attorneys general filed similar suits in the past over the temporary travel moratorium President Trump had issued earlier in the year. Other states controlled by the Democratic Party are expected to file additional lawsuits challenging the docking of DACA.

New York A.G. Eric Schneiderman issued a statement that labeled the dissolution of DACA as “an assault on the values that built this state and this nation.” The irony of Schneiderman’s use of the word “assault” is underscored by the astounding disregard for constitutional principles that the Obama administration displayed.

With the stroke of his pen in 2012, President Obama signed DACA into law. Without legal authority to do so, Obama bestowed work permit eligibility, granted access to Social Security and various government benefits, and facilitated the evasion of deportation by individuals who were in the country illegally. The former president did so ostensibly to address the needs of those who illegally entered the U.S. as minors.

Instead of enforcing existing immigration law, Obama, through the action of creating DACA, essentially took away the incentive for people to seek legal entry into the country. The preceding administration breached its obligation to enforce the laws on hand, and in so doing encouraged a new wave of massive illegal immigration.

DACA basically rewards law breakers by granting them benefits that are specifically and exclusively designated for those who are in the U.S. legally. Three Democrats and a majority of Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to defund DACA in June 2013.

“The point here is…the President does not have the authority to waive immigration law, nor does he have the authority to create it out of thin air…,” Steve King, lead author of the legislative amendment, said.

In November 2014 Obama once again ignored the Constitution and overstepped his authority by signing a similar executive action, which expanded DACA in some unusual ways. Again with a mere signature, the former president decreed into existence the Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), which granted certain illegal immigrants a quasi-legal status termed “deferred action status” along with a three-year renewable work permit and exemption from deportation.

Several states filed lawsuits over DAPA claiming that the action was unconstitutional. A temporary injunction was issued by a federal judge in February of 2015, which essentially blocked the program from going into effect.

The judge’s decision was upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. At the time the appellate court chastised Obama for failing to enforce existing law, stating that Obama’s decree “does not transform presence deemed unlawful by Congress into lawful presence and confer eligibility for otherwise unavailable benefits based on that change.”

In other words, Obama had no legal or constitutional authority to provide government benefits that were disallowed by legislation, which had been duly passed by Congress.

Obama’s overreach undermined the important principle of Separation of Powers by encroaching on the exclusive power of Congress to legislate immigration matters.

Just like DAPA, DACA is blatantly unconstitutional. Congressional members are elected to debate and to engage in lawmaking that will offer fair and meaningful solutions with regard to the issue of immigration.

By getting rid of DACA, President Trump is simply correcting a blatantly illegal and destructive policy framework that should never have been on the books in the first place.