A campaign watchdog group filed a complaint with federal election officials that alleges Stephen Bannon—recently named one of Donald Trump’s top White House advisers—may have gotten paid illegally during Trump’s campaign by pro-Trump billionaires.
And now, a new set of Federal Election Commission filings that haven’t yet been reported on may give the group’s case some additional heft.
At issue are payments of nearly $200,000 that a super PAC called Make America Number 1 made to a company tied to Bannon. On Aug. 17, Bannon left his post as chairman of Breitbart News and became the Trump campaign’s CEO.
Available FEC filings show the campaign didn’t pay Bannon a salary. Larry Noble, General Counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, said he believes the super PAC covertly paid Bannon for his campaign work through his moviemaking company. Neither the super PAC nor Bannon provided a response to Noble’s comment.
Well, if the Trump campaign wasn’t paying Bannon after he officially joined it, then was he just a volunteer? Or did someone else foot the bill?
The Campaign Legal Center says the new FEC filings undergird their case against the Mercers. Those filings cover the final weeks before Election Day, up until Nov. 5, and they show that a super PAC funded largely by the Mercers—Make America Number 1—paid Bannon’s moviemaking company, Glittering Steel, $187,500 during that window of time. The super PAC cut Glittering Steel five checks from Oct. 1 to Nov. 5: one for $40,500, one for $50,000, one for $37,500, one for $34,500, and one for $25,000.
There’s scant public information available about Glittering Steel, and the company doesn’t have a website. Sources familiar with the company told The Daily Beast this month that it’s essentially a front for Bannon, and that Rebekah Mercer is also involved with it. The company is listed as a producer of the film Clinton Cash, based on a book of the same title that ripped into Hillary Clinton and her family’s foundation for alleged influence-peddling. That narrative played a major role in Clinton’s ultimate loss to Trump.
If it is proven true, and at this stage it is just an allegation, this is the oldest and most transparent scam in the campaign violation tool chest. A hidden donor pays a shell company for “services” to mask hidden payments to a candidate or his staff.
Raise your hand if you are surprised Donald Trump’s own Pepe the Frog is accused of taking under the table payments.
And if it is true, the finger points directly at Donald Trump’s involvement unless you are willing to believe Trump hired someone to run his campaign and compensation was never discussed.