Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Foreign fundraising felonies: Trump edition

Donald Trump put his son in charge of email fundraising, and the evidence is that Donnie Jr. may be in over his head. His operation sent out a spate of emails which ended up in spam folders, and then another round that went to members of the British parliament. Let Josh Marshall take it from here:
Accepting contributions from foreign nationals is illegal of course though in this case it seems more a matter of incompetence than criminal intent, as though Trump has bought his email list not for a party list vendor but maybe from a Nigerian email scammer. In any case, it's not just the UK. It turns out some or perhaps all members of the Icelandic parliament have also receiving fundraising emails from the Trump campaign asking for money.
Imagine what a proud moment this is for you as an American (from the IcelandMonitor ...)
At least three prominent Icelandic politicians have received an e-mail from US presidential candidate Donald Trump asking for money to fund his campaign. Leader of the Left-Green Alliance Katrín Jakobsdóttir was one of those to receive the e-mail yesterday afternoon, in which Trump pledged personally to match any donation made in the next 48 hours from his own pocket.
“I’m fighting back against Crooked Hillary and her pathetic cronies, as well as the dishonest liberal media, and I need your help,” reads the e-mail.
Or here, another bewildered Icelandic MP is quote in Iceland Magazine ...

“I have no idea why he emailed me the letter,” MP Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, a member of the Independence Party (Sjálfstæðisflokkurinn) and one of the emails recipients, told Morgublaðið newspaper. Katrín Jakobsdóttir, head of the Left Green Party, received an email from Trump. “This whole matter is very perplexing. The letter left me speechless,” she said.
Late Update: And bizarrely enough, there's more. Trump has apparently also been hitting up the entire Australian parliament for contributions ...
Perhaps little Donnie was unaware that it is illegal to accept political contributions from non-US nationals.

Update: Not only did Trump spam the entire Icelandic parliament, Josh Marshall reports:
I've now confirmed that Trump and sons have also been sending emails to all the MPs in Australia and Denmark. I have unconfirmed reports that MPs in Canada also received them. Indeed, Labor MP Tim Watts of Australia tells me he's gotten a flood of emails from the Trump's asking for money to defeat Crooked Hillary.
Now, you're likely asking: what on Earth is going on here? Obviously, it is strictly against US election law to receive campaign contributions from foreign nationals. I suspect knowingly soliciting them is likely also illegal. And when you're soliciting money from foreign parliamentarians it's probably a pretty good bet they're not US citizens. But obviously, as big as a buffoon as Trump is, and as crooked as he is, there's no possible way his campaign is intentionally soliciting small donor contributions from members of foreign parliaments. Somehow this must be incompetence in how they bought their email solicitation lists. But how?
Candidly I didn't know you could easily buy the email list of all members of the Icelandic parliament. But it seems like you can.
Now a few people suggested that maybe someone was just pranking Trump - going to the website and signing up various foreign parliamentarians and dignitaries. But this seems far too systematic for that. It does appear to be every member of each parliament. You'd need to collect each email and then manually add them in on the Trump website, somehow get them to confirm the opt-in confirmation email. It's too complicated. These are lists that were almost certainly added from within the campaign.
The only plausible answer seems to be that the Trump campaign either dealt with a sloppy or disreputable list broker or was so desperate after its horrible May FEC report was released that it went to a broker and just said they wanted every list and they'd sort it all out later. I confess that both scenarios seem a little farfetched. But some version of one of them basically had to happen, unless there's a prankster actually inside the campaign.
To give another example, I heard this morning from a Democratic Senate Chief of Staff who also got the emails. Folks like that get fundraising emails from everyone under the sun. No surprise. But he told me he never gets them at his senate.gov email. And it's obvious why. You're not allowed to do that and it's the easiest thing in the world to scrub a list of all the .gov addresses.
Another update: fair election groups will file a complaint with the FEC.  Given its track record, expect a response in 2031.

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