Liam Madden speaks at the VTDigger debate between House Republican nominees at the Double E Performance Center in Essex, Tuesday, June 28, 2022. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Liam Madden, the popularly elected Republican candidate for Vermont’s only seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, said in a radio interview Thursday morning that he had been in the middle of the primary cycle to qualify for the candidate debate. He detailed a self-funded plan to expand campaign donations.

Appearing on WVMT’s talk radio show Morning Drive, Madden claimed to have “depleted” his wife’s company bank account, distributed approximately $25,000 to his family (including his young son June), and transferred the money to his family. Claimed to have donated to the campaign. Madden is now making that money back by collecting salaries from his campaign, he said.

Saurab Ghosh, director of federal campaign finance reform at the Center for Campaign Legal in Washington, D.C., told VTDigger on Friday that Madden’s self-described scheme was “blatantly illegal.”

“He didn’t seem to be aware of the fact that he confessed to campaign finance violations in an on-air interview,” said Ghosh, an attorney who worked for the Federal Election Commission’s enforcement branch for five years.

Madden, who was contacted by phone Friday afternoon, claimed the plan was legal. When asked who said it was legal, he replied, “I just read his FEC rules.”

“You know, a family member can give money to another family member for any reason, and they can justify it as a gift. We choose to donate to the campaign.” Madden said, “These are all legal transactions.”

Washington, DC-based campaign finance expert best known for filing legal complaints against former President Donald Trump and Michael Cohen over hush money paid to Stormy Daniels Paul S. Ryan told VTDigger in a phone interview on Friday: to chase. This sounds very illegal. “

“This guy is just making up the law. I mean, it’s kind of wild that he’s so vocal and so confident,” Ryan said. “If the laws were easily circumvented by his clever trickery, the laws would be meaningless. They are not so easy to circumvent.”

So, both Ryan and Ghosh say, Madden apparently violated the FEC’s ban on donations “in someone else’s name,” colloquially known as the straw donor ban. Ghosh said Madden’s case fits the “textbook definition” of tactics.

In April, former New York Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin filed indictments alleging that he was involved in a straw donor scheme that was allegedly carried out during the 2020 U.S. Senate and 2021 New York City Council elections. resigned after federal prosecutors made public.

“One of the essential elements of campaign finance transparency is that all donations must be made in the name of the true donor, so they must be attributed to the person who actually gave the money. said Ghosh. “This is a serious violation because it fundamentally undermines election transparency and the right of voters to know who is actually paying to support candidates and their campaigns.”

Madden has raised a total of $41,590 to date, according to his FEC filing. Listed donors to his campaign include his wife Lauren Madden ($5,800), mother Oona Madden ($5,800), sister Dally Madden ($2,900), and son June Madden ($5,300). will be

According to Madden’s website, June Madden was born in 2019. His occupation is listed as “student” on his FEC filing in Madden.

According to the FEC, minors under the age of 18 are not permitted to make donations “when the minor knowingly and voluntarily decides to make a donation” and “using funds given to the minor as a gift for a purpose.” You can make a campaign donation if you haven’t. It is the responsibility of making a contribution and is in no way controlled by another individual. “

“If you’re talking about toddlers, I think you look at it and say, ‘Who’s actually making that decision?'” Ghosh said. I think it’s further evidence of the fact that it was a fundraising scheme.”

Madden’s wife, Lauren, runs the online shop Lala Earth, which sells “wild herb tonics and nourishing skin care products.” She is also a social her media influencer on Instagram where she has over 46,000 followers. Lara Earth’s business registration with the Vermont Secretary of State’s office expired in 2021. Companies are also prohibited from donating directly to political candidates, according to the FEC.

It is legal for candidates to withhold salaries from campaigns. But Ghosh told his VTDigger that he doesn’t consider Madden’s repayment to him a salary.

“He explains that it was designed to repay the money he initially withdrew from his wife’s account, rather than a real paycheck, and then gives it back to himself,” Ghosh said. “That means they’re all just part of the same scheme.”

“It’s basically a complete fake,” said Ghosh.

Liam Madden is the Republican candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives seat in Vermont. Seen on-site in Andover on Thursday, September 29, 2022. Photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Madden’s plans were first revealed Thursday morning when Morning Drive hosts Kurt Wright and Anthony Neri offered Madden the chance to respond to criticism “from candidates or anyone else” about his son’s donation. became.

laughing, Madden replied. So the legal loophole was basically to drain all the money out of my wife’s business operations account and distribute it to family members to donate to the campaign. I basically had to pay it back by paying the candidate without quotes because I can’t afford to donate, which is also legal. So basically, I was able to win the primary just by creating a few clever legal loopholes to actually get into the debate.”

Ryan said that if Madden is prosecuted for the scheme, the on-air interview would likely be admissible evidence in court as “a self-serving confession.”

In his work with the Campaign Legal Center, Ghosh and his team file campaign finance complaints with the FEC. When asked if Madden’s case appeared to constitute a complaint by his team, Ghosh said, “I will certainly discuss it with my colleagues and consider filing it.”

“I don’t think it’s going to be a tough sell, even for the commission,” Ghosh said. “If they know anything about the FEC, they often disagree, they get stuck and they don’t do much to enforce the law. is not easy.

“But I think this has potential for them,” Ghosh said.

Madden’s on-air confession drew condemnation from both the state’s Democrats and Republicans. Vermont Democratic Party Executive Director Jim Dundonough said in an unusually punctuated written statement that the case strengthens the case for voting for Madden’s Democratic opponent, Becca Balint.

“If Vermonters needed another reason to support her, Liam Madden admitted to multiple egregious campaign finance violations – apparently spearheading a straw donation scheme and possibly illegal corporate funding (!) into his campaign through his children (!!) and (?) proved his claim (?) campaign finance (??) and the two-party system (???) and the accompanying federal prison about five years (!!!) of – should be the final nail in the coffin of his ridiculous candidacy,” Dundonough said. she said.

A staunch opponent of the self-proclaimed independent two-party system, Madden ran in the Republican primary to gain prominence early in Vermont’s election cycle. When he won the Republican nomination in August, Vermont Republicans pledged to provide him with institutional support if Madden won in November because he refused to commit to a caucus with the Republican Party. rice field.

The state’s Republican Party chairman, Paul Dame, told VTDigger on Friday that Madden’s self-induced lack of institutional support was what got him here.

“When someone is running a campaign without the backing of the party, there is no one you can trust to run a scenario,” Dame said. is a true outsider, which is part of his appeal and refreshing to some people. “

Source link

By admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *