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Watchdog Groups Demand Answers On Trump Campaign's Alleged Payment to Adult Film Star

Watchdog Groups Demand Answers On Trump Campaign's Alleged Payment to Adult Film Star

Published on
Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Edit News Watchdog Groups Demand Answers On Trump Campaign's Alleged Payment to Adult Film Star

Reported $130,000 payment could amount to an unreported campaign contribution, argues Common Cause

In addition to an alleged $130,000 payment made by President Trump's lawyer to an adult film star to cover up an affair she had with Trump, the campaign paid the exact same amount to Trump Tower two months later. (Photo: Abir Anwar/Flickr/cc)

Two government watchdog groups have pushed this week to make public details about two $130,000 payments that were reportedly made by President Donald Trump's associates within weeks of the 2016 presidential election.

Common Cause demanded that the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) investigate reports that Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, created a private limited liability company to secretly sent a $130,000 payment to Stephanie Clifford—also known under her pseudonym as an adult film star, Stormy Daniels—in October 2016, weeks before Trump was elected.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the payment was made to keep Daniels from disclosing an alleged sexual encounter with Trump.

Regardless of the truth of the allegation and where exactly the money came from, Common Cause argues, the $130,000 should be considered a campaign expense—and therefore one that should have been reported to the FEC —"because the funds were paid for the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential general election," according to Paul S. Ryan, a campaign finance expert at Common Cause.

The payment amounts to "an unreported in-kind contribution," the group wrote in its letters to the FEC and the DOJ.

Meanwhile, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) tweeted on Tuesday about a $130,000 payment that the Trump campaign made in December 2016 to Trump Tower.

While the campaign made many payments to the headquarters of Trump's real estate empire between June 2015 when he announced his run, and January 2017 when he took office, only one payment of $130,000 was made—two months after the same sum was reportedly given to Daniels, suggesting that the campaign could have been paying Trump back for covering Daniels's payment.

President Trump is accused of paying $130,000 in hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels to hide an affair a month before the election. In what is probably just a coincidence, the Trump campaign transferred $130K to the Trump businesses a month after the election. pic.twitter.com/KKknIC9ClC

— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) January 23, 2018

Part of what makes the $130K so interesting, and worth talking about, is that although the Trump campaign paid Trump Tower a ton of money in rent (and payroll), that is the only time the $130K figure appears. It would be good to know more about why.

— Citizens for Ethics (@CREWcrew) January 23, 2018

Common Cause and CREW did not comment on Daniels's claims—made several times since 2011—that she had sexual relationship with the president, including the encounter she discussed in an interview with In Touch magazine last week, but were focused instead on Trump's violation on campaign finance laws.

"The American people expect and deserve transparency when it comes to money spent to influence elections and those requirements are not optional no matter how embarrassing the reason behind the expense," said Karen Hobert Flynn, president of Common Cause, in a statement. "Candidates and their attorneys cannot choose how and when to comply with federal campaign finance laws. We strongly urge the Justice Department and the FEC to fully investigate these apparent illegal activities and if appropriate to take action to hold the President and his campaign accountable."

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