The Federal Election Commission has hit Right to Rise USA, the super-PAC that backed Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential bid, with a record fine for accepting a seven-figure donation from a company owned by Chinese nationals who were in business with Bush’s brother, Neil, according to FEC documents obtained by Mother Jones. It is illegal for foreign nationals to be involved in making donations to political committees.
Neil Bush, who has extensive business dealings in China, solicited the $1.3 million contribution from American Pacific International Capital (APIC), an international investment holding company where Neil is a board member. Although the contribution to Jeb’s super-PAC came from the American arm of APIC, the company’s owners are Chinese, and Neil Bush initially solicited the money from two Chinese nationals—Gordon Tang, the chair of APIC, and Huaidan Chen, a board member. The FEC has fined APIC $550,000 and Right to Rise $390,000.
The total combined fine against Bush’s super-PAC and APIC, which has not previously been reported, is $940,000, the largest amount levied in a single case against anyone since the 2010 Citizens United ruling. The penalty is also the biggest fine that the FEC has ever handed down due to foreign national participation. “This is a big, big fine, one of the biggest fines in FEC history,” says Brendan Fischer from the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan watchdog.