The alleged sex offender accused of trafficking one underage girl, Representative Matt Gaetz (R-FL) sure knows how to pick his attorney. The Gaetz campaign paid criminal defense attorney Marc Fernich $25,000 in June for legal fees. Fernich was also paid to represent sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and druglord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán.
A Trump ally and former governor Chris Christie’s (R-NJ) launched his nonprofit Right Direction America in December 2019 as a 501 (c)4 organization. As such, it did not have to expose its donors. However, it was also blocked from all political activity. Christie called it a “vehicle to drum up public support for Trump during his first impeachment trial in the Senate.”
Immediately prior to contributing a $100,000 donation to the nonprofit Gaetz, who was also an attorney offered to represent Trump in his impeachment trial. In December, Federal agents told Fox News that given the ethical conflicts, the representative should not do so. If necessary, the Florida Representative claimed that he would even resign from Congress “if the law requires it:”
‘I only regret that I have but one political career to give to my president.’
On the first day of Trump’s second impeachment trial Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who was allegedly had been under federal investigation since the summer for alleged sex crimes with an underage teen—made its largest-ever political contribution: $100,000 to a mysterious nonprofit created to defend the then-president.
That donation was questionable because it was over double the largest amount Gaetz had ever contributed before. In addition, it was more than the campaign’s gifts to Governor Ron DeSantis (R-FL). Not only that, this nonprofit had been inactive for over a year.
Partner at Wiley Rein, specializes in campaign finance and nonprofit law, Caleb Burns, told The Daily Beast this donation still raised some questions:
‘When you see a webpage like that, that has nothing—no press clips, no projects, no events, no contact information, no address, nothing to identify it as a group with an office where people go to work, or produce actual work—the first question is what do they exist to do? How are they validating their nonprofit status?’
Burns said that while the government’s exact threshold for “primarily” is not codified, political activity is often understood to be capped at 40 percent of a 501(c)4 organization’s overall work:
‘Political activity is also frequently subject to legally required disclosures under the campaign finance laws. However, other policy and issue advocacy—which must generally account for 60 percent of a (c)4 organization’s spending—often is not.’
Director of Research and Nonprofit Law Expert at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Robert Maquire spoke to The Daily Beast. He said that the information in the public record “does raise the question of how legit this nonprofit organization is:”
‘When you see a webpage like that, that has nothing—no press clips, no projects, no events, no contact information, no address, nothing to identify it as a group with an office where people go to work, or produce actual work—the first question is what do they exist to do?” Maguire told The Daily Beast. “How are they validating their nonprofit status?”’
Macguire said that the organization appeared to be “a shield for political activity.”
‘Gaetz doesn’t represent the group, but if the campaign is only telling you they support Sanders, it would indicate they’re a political group. [And] it was “incumbent on the organization” to provide an explanation, but noted the group’s activities won’t be known until it submits its 2021 tax returns “which could take until November 2022.”’
But that’s not why the Gaetz campaign said it donated to Right Direction America. A campaign spokesperson told The Daily Beast that the organization supported former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. She announced her run for governor of Arkansas in 2022, two weeks before the Florida representative’s donation. Gaetz announced:
‘We support the mission of Right Direction America.’
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