Campaign Finance

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Commingling Corporate and Campaign Resources

  • Alan Garten sent a letter in his capacity as an executive of the Trump Organization demanding that the Club for Growth take down a political advertisement critical of Donald Trump, which amounted to an illegal commingling of corporate and campaign resources. “The GOP front-runner's use of business assets in his campaign already has raised questions. Last month, the Trump Organization's general counsel, Alan Garten, sent a cease-and-desist letter on company stationery that threatened the conservative Club for Growth with legal action over a political ad that slammed Trump's positions on taxes and health care. Corporations cannot donate money or in-kind services to a candidate for federal office under U.S. election law. Garten could volunteer his legal expertise to the campaign, said Richard Hasen, who teaches at the University of California-Irvine School of Law. ‘But he certainly shouldn't be using corporate resources and corporate letterhead.’” (USA Today, October 7, 2015)
  • Garten claimed that his improper use of campaign resources to advance Trump's campaign was permitted, and a partisan impasse at the FEC rendered any actual enforcement of campaign finance rules impossible. “Garten said his letter to the Club for Growth ‘was the result of what we believe were certain misleading and outright false statements which we were concerned could potentially cause damage to Mr. Trump's reputation and business interests.’ […] There's little chance Trump will face any legal difficulty as a consequence. The FEC is locked in a 3-3 partisan deadlock and rarely takes any enforcement actions.” (USA Today, October 7, 2015)