DNC Settles Suit Over Payment for Research in “Steele Dossier”; One ELB Reader Wonders About DNC Tactics


The Federal Election Commission has agreed to a fine of over $100,000 against the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign over an investigation into alleged misreporting of spending related to the now-infamous Steele dossier.

The FEC fined both organizations after a pair of now years-old complaints — one from the Campaign Legal Center and another from the conservative Coolidge Reagan Foundation — alleged that the party and campaign reported payments to the powerhouse Democratic law firm Perkins Coie as legal expenses, when in actuality some of the money was earmarked for “paying Fusion GPS through Perkins Coie to conduct opposition research on Donald Trump,” as the Campaign Legal Center’s original complaint read.

The DNC and the Clinton campaign collectively agreed to pay $113,000 in fines, according to separate conciliation agreements the agency made with both parties. The DNC will pay $105,000 and the Clinton campaign $8,000.

The FEC conciliation agreements were made public Wednesday after the Coolidge Reagan Foundation first shared a response letter from the agency with the Washington Examiner. POLITICO independently obtained a second, and similar, letter the agency sent to the CLC.

The Steele dossier, which was first made public when BuzzFeed News published it in January 2017, contained a variety of accurate, inaccurate, unproven and sometimes salacious allegations about ties between Russia and Donald Trump, as well as others in his orbit.

The conciliation agreements found “probable cause to believe” that both the campaign and national party “misreport[ed] the purpose of certain disbursements” when they said certain payments to Perkins Coie were for legal fees….

An ELB reader writes:

There is something off about the Fusion GPS settlement.  Why did the DNC use Perkins (or, the current ELG folks) to represent them in a matter that primarily involved Perkins?  The whole MUR is about Perkins’ conduct—why didn’t they pull in Covington or Sandler Reiff?  They even used the same lawyer who does most of the DNC work, and who must have been involved in the initial reporting issues.  I don’t have any special insight here, but I don’t think the party should have settled this matter.  Trump is 43-0 at the Commission, but the biggest DNC matter involving the 2016 elections is settled?  A settlement that can be taken by conspiracy theorists and the Fox News crowd as an admission of some sort of responsibility in this whole Fusion mess?

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