DNC, Clinton campaign agree to Steele dossier funding fine
NEW YORK (AP) — Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee have agreed to pay $113,000 to settle a Federal Election Commission investigation into whether they violated campaign finance law by misreporting spending on research that eventually became the infamous Steele dossier.
That’s according to documents sent Tuesday to the Coolidge Reagan Foundation, which had filed an administrative complaint in 2018 accusing the Democrats of misreporting payments made to a law firm during the 2016 campaign to obscure the spending.
The Clinton campaign hired Perkins Coie, which then hired Fusion GPS, a research and intelligence firm, to conduct opposition research on Republican candidate Donald Trump’s ties to Russia. But on FEC forms, the Clinton campaign classified the spending as legal services.
“By intentionally obscuring their payments through Perkins Coie and failing to publicly disclose the true purpose of those payments,” the campaign and DNC “were able to avoid publicly reporting on their statutorily required FEC disclosure forms the fact that they were paying Fusion GPS to perform opposition research on Trump with the intent of influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election,” the initial complaint had read.
The Clinton campaign and DNC had argued that the payments had been described accurately, but agreed, according to the documents, to settle without conceding to avoid further legal costs.
The Clinton campaign agreed to a civil penalty of $8,000 and the DNC $105,000, according to a pair of conciliatory agreements that were attached to the letter sent to the Coolidge Reagan Foundation.
The documents have not yet been made public and FEC spokeswoman Judith Ingram said the FEC has 30 days after parties are notified about enforcement matters to release them.
The Steele dossier was a report compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and financed by Democrats that included salacious allegations about Trump’s conduct in Russia and allegations about ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Documents have shown the FBI invested significant resources attempting to corroborate the dossier and relied substantially on it to obtain surveillance warrants targeting former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
But the dossier has been largely discredited since its publication, with core aspects of the material exposed as unsupported and unproven rumors. A special counsel assigned to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia probe charged one of Steele’s sources with lying to the FBI and charged a cybersecurity lawyer who worked for Clinton’s campaign with lying to the FBI during a 2016 meeting in which he relayed concerns about the Russia-based Alfa Bank.
Trump, who has railed against the dossier for years, released a statement celebrating the agreement and once again slamming the dossier as “a Hoax funded by the DNC and the Clinton Campaign.”
A DNC spokesperson played down the decision, saying: “We settled aging and silly complaints from the 2016 election about ‘purpose descriptions’ in our FEC report.” The lawyer representing both the campaign and the DNC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The letter was first reported by the Washington Examiner.