Cleta Mitchell and von Spakovsky Advance Nutty Theory That Paying for Steele Dossier Violates Foreign Contribution Ban

This seems beyond a stretch:

“There’s this strong public policy historically that prohibits paying a foreign national or receiving anything of value from a foreign national in a U.S. campaign,” Mitchell said. “If it involves an amount over $25,000 and it’s knowing and willful, it’s a felony.”

Mitchell points to the words “expenditure” and “disbursement” in 11 CFR 110.20, and says it will be important to learn more about Steele’s citizenship, residency, interaction with other foreigners and the ownership of Fusion GPS.

Hans von Spakovsky, a former Federal Election Commission member who now works at the Heritage Foundation, shared a similar view when asked to evaluate Mitchell’s theory that paying foreigners may be a violation.

“Yes, they are in potential trouble,” von Spakovsky said…..

“This is a crazy stupid theory,” the person close to the Clinton campaign said.

“Under it Trump would have violated it by buying hats and t-shirts manufactured abroad,” they said.

Mitchell said she believes there’s a difference between merchandise, and that “the FEC regulations prohibit anyone from getting foreign nationals involved in a federal, state or local election, in a manner that causes them to make disbursements related to the election.”

Others doubt Mitchell’s legal interpretation, however, including Rick Hasen, a University of California at Irvine law professor and founder of the Election Law Blog.

“The law prohibits accepting contributions from foreigners or providing substantial assistance to foreigners in making independent expenditures,” Hasen said. “It does not prohibit paying foreigners at market value to perform services.”

Jan Baran, an attorney and election law expert at Wiley Rein LLP who has argued several cases before the Supreme Court, said he also knew of no law banning campaigns from hiring foreigners.

But Baran added that he believes the Clinton campaign could be in trouble for not accurately disclosing its payments to the law firm.

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