“Trump Indictment Is a Perversion of Campaign-Finance Law”

Brad Smith WSJ oped:

Candidates with substantial business interests, such as Mr. Trump, will frequently find themselves facing lawsuits—some merited, some not. If such a candidate were to instruct his company’s legal counsel to settle them, the settlement payments would, subjectively, be made “to influence an election.” Legally, however, such payments couldn’t be made with campaign funds and would have to be made by the company or the candidate personally, because the underlying obligation wasn’t created by the act of campaigning.

These restrictions on converting campaign funds to “personal use” may be the one meritorious part of our complex, often destructive system of campaign-finance regulation. They define the difference between bribes—donations for the candidate’s personal benefit—and campaign contributions. Who really thinks that a candidate can—let alone must—use campaign funds to pay hush money for past affairs, and who knows what else? But that’s what Mr. Bragg’s theory would require.

In other words, the “crime” that Mr. Bragg claims is being covered up isn’t a crime at all. Worse still, one is left with the distinct impression that if Mr. Trump had used campaign funds to pay Ms. Daniels, Mr. Bragg would be alleging that the underlying crime the business records were intended to cover up was the illegal conversion of campaign funds to personal use. This is a classic Catch-22 that undermines the rule of law.

Share this: