by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Federal Election Commission fined the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign more than $100,000 for secretly funding opposition research that falsely accused Donald Trump of colluding with Russia.
The commission fined the treasurers of the DNC and Clinton campaign for “misreporting the purpose of certain disbursements” related to the infamous Steele dossier, according to a ruling released on Wednesday. The DNC and Clinton campaign paid more than $1 million in 2016 to fund the dossier project, but labeled the payments as legal expenses. The commission fined the DNC and Clinton campaign $105,000 and $8,000, respectively.
The ruling, first reported by the Washington Examiner, vindicates claims that Democrats improperly hid their links to the dossier. Former British spy Christopher Steele, the author of the dossier, accused the Trump campaign of leading a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” with the Russian government. He also alleged that the Kremlin blackmailed Trump to do its bidding. Numerous federal and congressional investigations have debunked Steele’s allegations. Special Counsel John Durham last year indicted Steele’s primary source, Igor Danchenko, on charges that he lied to the FBI about his sources.
Dan Backer, who in 2018 filed the FEC complaint on behalf of the Coolidge Reagan Foundation, praised the ruling.
“This may well be the first time that Hillary Clinton—one of the most evidently corrupt politicians in American history—has actually been held legally accountable,” he told the Examiner.
The Clinton campaign and DNC commissioned the dossier through their law firm, Perkins Coie. The firm paid more than $1 million to opposition research firm Fusion GPS to collect damaging information about Trump and Russia. Fusion GPS in turn paid $168,000 to Steele, who operates a private intelligence firm in London.