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Politics Paul Ryan Didn’t Violate Campaign Finance Laws

20:51  17 may  2018
20:51  17 may  2018 Source:   factcheck.org

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Q: Did House Speaker Paul Ryan break campaign finance laws in a meeting with donor Sheldon Adelson? A: He met with Adelson (which is legal), but there’s no evidence he solicited a million donation for a Republican super PAC (which would be illegal).

Senior counsel with the Campaign Legal Center joins MidPoint to discuss his column in Politico on campaign finance law and how the 2016 candidates are

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Q: Did House Speaker Paul Ryan break campaign finance laws in a meeting with donor Sheldon Adelson?

A: No. He met with Adelson (which is legal), but there’s no evidence he solicited a $30 million donation for a Republican super PAC (which would be illegal).  

FULL ANSWER

House Speaker Paul Ryan was at a recent meeting where casino mogul and Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson agreed to give $30 million to the Congressional Leadership Fund, a conservative super PAC.

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Ryan didn’t ask for the donation — he actually left the room while someone else made the request — a spokeswoman for the CLF confirmed. So, he didn’t break campaign finance laws.

But a left-leaning website called Opposition Report posted an item that is circulating on Facebook with the headline: “BREAKING: Paul Ryan BUSTED In Corruption Scheme With Top Donor.” It was copied and posted by at least two othersites the next day.

The story, which Facebook users flagged it as potentially false, says: “Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, broke campaign finance laws.” But it offers no evidence to support that claim.

The Congressional Leadership Fund is a so-called “nonconnected PAC,” which means it is not a party committee. It may receive unlimited contributions, while national party committees are limited to accepting $33,900 per year from individual contributors. The official House Republican committee is called the National Republican Congressional Committee.

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Paul Seamus Ryan , vice president for policy and litigation at Common Cause, said the latest explanation of the payment — that Mr. Trump reimbursed Mr. Cohen — does not eliminate the possibility that the payment violated campaign finance laws .

It’s not unusual for high-ranking federal officeholders, such as Ryan, to meet with big donors to friendly super PACs. That’s legal as long as they don’t actually solicit contributions over the thresholds set in the federal election law for individual contributions to traditional PACs — which currently is $5,000 from individuals, as explained on the Federal Election Commission website.

“The classic example is a fundraiser,” said Lawrence Noble, former general counsel to the FEC and senior director of The Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization that deals with election law and campaign finance issues.

Noble said federal lawmakers can attend super PAC events that raise donations far beyond those caps, as long as they aren’t the ones who actually ask for the money. That’s when those who aren’t in office step in and request the donations.

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Ryan , of Common Cause, said Giuliani’s comments suggested a willful violation of campaign finance law . “He raises the exposure for the president, because Giuliani acknowledged that Trump and his campaign may have had a duty to report it,” Sanderson added

Campaign finance experts said Trump’s latest admission could be used to help prove he violated campaign finance laws . "Reimbursement equals knowledge, in my opinion, legally," Paul Ryan , the vice president of policy and litigation at watchdog group Common Cause, told NBC News.

Other experts agreed.

They all pointed to a 2011 FEC advisory opinion that said officeholders cannot solicit unlimited funds, but they can “attend, speak at, or be featured guests at fundraisers for the Committees, at which unlimited individual, corporate, and labor organization contributions will be solicited.”

The Opposition Report describes that kind of a situation with Ryan being present for the meeting and then leaving when the donation is requested. But it concludes, “This is disgusting, and — once again — not legal.” But it is legal.

We asked Ryan’s office for comment and it referred us to his fundraising committee, Team Ryan, which provided us with his recent answer to a reporter about the incident. Here’s the exchange:

Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Congressman Sensenbrenner discussed how good a fundraiser you are. You took that trip to Nevada to meet with Adelson when there was a $30 million ask, not made by you, what do you tell people about the ethics of the fundraising and how it works, because it has gotten some criticism.

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The long-sought donation was sealed last week when, according to two senior Republicans, House Speaker Paul Ryan flew to Las Vegas to meet with the billionaire at his Venetian Hotel. If you're wondering if anyone has made a complete mockery of that part of our campaign finance system

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Ryan: Look, we follow the rules extremely carefully, and in that case we did. And I think a lot of Americans realize that our majority is at stake. The midterm elections are not good for majority parties, historically speaking. On average, the president’s party in the first midterm loses about 32 seats, we have a 24-seat majority. So I think people understand that the historic trend does not (inaudible) the majority party, and what we’re trying to do is make the case to people around the country that this is a majority worth supporting. With respect to the campaign finance issues, we do it by the book, always have, always will.

Ryan and the Republicans are counting on the Congressional Leadership Fund to help the party retain its majority in the House. In 2016, the super PAC raised almost $51.1 million and made more than $40 million in independent expenditures – such as TV ads that advocate for the defeat or election of particular candidates. Its largest individual donors in 2016 were Adelson and his wife, Miriam, who contributed $20 million to the group.

Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebookto debunk false stories flagged by readers on the social media network.

Sources

Sherman, Jake and Alex Isenstadt. “

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Basically, this is about campaign finance violations more than it is about an extramarital affair with an adult film star. That's what we're talking about here and that's what Paul Ryan doesn' t seem to particularly care about. He doesn' t care if the president of the United States violated FEC laws by

The US Supreme Court clearly recognizes that campaign finance laws are criminal laws . But this law could have also been violated in the Donald Trump Jr./Natalia Veselnitskaya meeting.

Sheldon Adelson kicks in $30M to stop Democratic House takeover.” Politico. 10 May 2018.

Alexander, Courtney. Spokeswoman, Congressional Leadership Fund. Interview with FactCheck.org. 15 May 2018.

Simpson, Andrew. “BREAKING: Paul Ryan BUSTED In Corruption Scheme With Top Donor.” ORnews.org. 11 May 2018.

Soft money of political parties. 52 U.S.C. 30125.

Limitations on contributions and expenditures. 52 U.S.C. 30116.

Federal Election Commission. Advisory Opinion 2011-12. 30 Jun 2011.

Noble, Lawrence. Senior Director, The Campaign Legal Center. Interview with FactCheck.org. 15 May 2018.

Adler, Jeremy. Spokesman, Team Ryan. E-mail sent to FactCheck.org. 15 May 2018.

The post Paul Ryan Didn’t Violate Campaign Finance Laws appeared first on FactCheck.org.

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