Is Trump Aide Violating Campaign Finance Law?


According to campaign finance laws, there are two potential issues if Cohen is taking on campaign-related duties. Campaign finance and lobbying regulations expert Joseph Sandler, a lawyer for Sandler Reiff Lamb Rosenstein & Birkenstock, explained to BuzzFeed News that it would be a violation of the law if Cohen were to reduce his hours devoted to Trump Organization work in favor of the campaign without having reduced his pay from the Trump Organization, constituting an illegal corporate in-kind contribution to the campaign.

Also, the time spent working on campaign-related affairs could be a factor. “If Cohen is working out of the Trump Organization’s offices and doing campaign work during working hours, if that work exceeds four hours a month, that would constitute an unlawful use of corporate resources for a federal campaign,” Sandler said.

Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, echoed Sandler in an email to BuzzFeed News. He said that anyone can volunteer for a campaign legally, but “if Mr. Cohen is actually being paid by the Trump Organization for the campaign work he’s doing—i.e., he’s ‘on the clock’—then the Trump Organization is making an illegal in-kind corporate contribution to the Trump campaign. In all likelihood, Mr. Cohen is a salaried individual who can simply say/decide when his is on and off the clock for the Trump Organization. By contrast, it would be clearly illegal for the Trump Organization to pay hourly workers to do campaign work on the clock.”

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