October 22, 2019

Ranking Member Klobuchar: The Department of Justice Failed to Refer Probable Campaign Finance Violation to the Federal Election Commission

Klobuchar received a response to her letters to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) which confirmed that the Department of Justice did not follow the longstanding memorandum of understanding between the Department and the FEC when it failed to refer their inquiry on whether President Trump violated campaign finance laws; The FEC also confirmed that opposition research is “a thing of value” under the law

Klobuchar is Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with jurisdiction over the FEC

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ranking Member of the Senate Rules Committee with jurisdiction over the Federal Election Commission (FEC), released the statement below after the FEC responded to two of her letters calling for more information regarding potential campaign finance violations by President Donald Trump and his associates. In an October 2 letter, Klobuchar requested answers regarding reports that the Department of Justice (DOJ) allegedly failed to follow a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the FEC by not referring campaign finance related complaints to the Commission. In an October 8 letter, Klobuchar also requested further information on what counts as a “thing of value” under campaign finance law after reports indicated that the DOJ based its decision to not investigate the President on the fact that the information the President was asking for on the July 25th call with President Zelensky was not a “thing of value.”

In the response, FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub confirmed that the DOJ did not refer their inquiry on whether President Donald Trump violated campaign finance laws to the FEC, and she confirmed that the MOU requiring them to do so is still in effect. The response from Weintraub also expressly stated that opposition research is considered a “thing of value” under the law.

Statement from Senator Klobuchar: 

“The Department of Justice failed to follow a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) by not referring its investigation of President Trump for potential campaign finance violations to the Commission. The FEC also confirmed that opposition research, which the President solicited from foreign leaders, is considered to be a ‘thing of value’ under the law, which is illegal to solicit from foreign entities. The refusal to inform the FEC and refer the matter regarding the President’s call to the FEC as required to do, as the Justice Department is required, undermines our campaign finance system and is unacceptable in a democracy,” Klobuchar said.

The text of Weintraub’s response can be found HERE with addendum HERE. The full text of Commissioner Hunter's response can be found HERE

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