June 20, 2024

Government Watchdog Group Asks Feds to Investigate Herschel Walker Money Scandal

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A government watchdog group is urging the Federal Election Commission to investigate a serious potential violation of campaign finance law, first reported by The Daily Beast, from failed Senate candidate Herschel Walker.

On Friday, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a formal complaint with the FEC concerning Walker and his personal company, HR Talent LLC.

Emails published by The Daily Beast on Wednesday showed Walker soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars from a personal friend, the billionaire businessman Dennis Washington, for his company—not his campaign.

In total, Walker asked a Washington representative to wire him $535,200 for HR Talent LLC, according to the emails, which also indicated Washington’s camp believed the money was for political purposes.

In their complaint, CREW asked the FEC to “impose sanctions appropriate to these violations, and take such further action as may be appropriate, including referring this matter to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution should the investigation reveal that criminal laws were violated.”

A spokesperson for Washington’s company, Washington Corporations, confirmed on Thursday the money was sent to a “non-political account,” adding that they asked for a refund as soon as they realized it wasn’t for Walker’s Senate campaign in Georgia.

The representative did not answer any further questions from The Daily Beast, including when the refund took place. Washington’s company didn’t respond to a request for comment until a day after the original story.

According to CREW’s complaint, a refund doesn’t take away from the seriousness of the potential violation, particularly because Walker’s emails indicated his “apparent familiarity with the legal limits.”

“Mr. Walker’s violation was knowing and willful,” the complaint alleges.

Campaign finance experts quoted in The Daily Beast’s initial report were bewildered by the findings, ranking it among the most flagrant campaign finance scandals in modern U.S. history.

Saurav Ghosh, director of federal reform at Campaign Legal Center, called it “jaw-dropping.” Jordan Libowitz, communications director at CREW, said if Walker “used the campaign to funnel money into his own business, that’s one of the biggest campaign finance crimes I’ve ever heard of.”

Another campaign finance lawyer, Brendan Fischer, called Walker’s move “stunning and, to my knowledge, without parallel in recent history.”

Citing The Daily Beast’s reporting, CREW explains that the $535,200 sum solicited by Walker “far exceeds the statutory limits on contributions to this joint fundraising committee,” even if it was understood to be split among Washington and members of his family.

The complaint also includes an email from a redacted account informing Walker and Washington that the funds “cannot legally be used for political purposes.” Federal contribution limits during the 2022 midterms were set at $2,900 per person for campaigns and $5,000 in a year for political committees.

The CREW complaint goes further to allege the emails between Washington’s agent and Walker confirm “that the purpose of these transfers was to influence federal election laws,” and that the matter should be referred to the Department of Justice if any criminal laws were violated.

Paul S. Ryan, a campaign finance specialist and deputy executive director at the Funders’ Committee for Civic Participation, suggested Walker’s activity amounts to a “criminal violation,” calling the scandal “extraordinary and unprecedented in my 25 years of campaign finance watchdog work.”

“There’s no legal way that this could have played out.”

This post originally appeared on and written by:
Jake Lahut
The Daily Beast 2023-05-05 15:25:00

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