Trump accused of breaking campaign laws by teasing 2024 race

As former President Donald Trump continues to tease a future White House bid, a pro-Democrat super PAC has accused him of violating federal campaign laws by raising and spending money to a race without officially applying.

In its complaint filed Monday with the Federal Election Commission, American Bridge accused Trump of “illegally using his multi-candidate leadership PAC to raise and spend funds in excess of the Commission’s limits for the purpose of advancing a presidential campaign. of 2024”. The super PAC says this includes “payments for events at Trump properties, rallies featuring Mr. Trump, consulting payments to former Trump campaign staff, and digital advertising about Mr. Trump and his alleged adversary of 2024”.

Alleging that Trump has already privately decided to mount a 2024 campaign, American Bridge says he was then obligated to file a statement of intent to run within 15 days of receiving contributions or any expenses over $5,000.

“Trump toyed with the Federal Election Campaign Act for months,” the group said Monday, noting that the former president, through his Save America PAC, spent more than $100,000 a week on Facebook ads “and consistently collected more than $1 million a week – a flagrant violation of campaign finance law and the precedent set by the Federal Election Commission.”

American Bridge wants the FEC to compel the disclosure of Trump’s expenses and fine him “the maximum amount allowed by law.”

Taylor Budowich, a Trump spokesman, said American Bridge’s complaint was baseless and he accused Democrats of resorting to “cheap tricks.”

“Our country is spiraling into disaster because of the Democrats’ failures, and instead of backtracking to provide much-needed help to American families, they are busy filing frivolous lawsuits that have no merit.” , did he declare.

It is unclear how the commission would proceed with the case, which joins a pending case. Sometimes criticized as ineffective and far too slow in their decisions, the six commissioners – three Democrats and three Republicans – are often deadlocked depending on the party, leading to frequent dismissals.

Last year, for example, the commission dropped its investigation into whether Trump violated campaign finance laws when he allegedly asked his personal attorney to pay porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in cash. silent to keep silent about their alleged sexual relationship ahead of the 2016 election after its commissioners. stalemate 2-2.

In February, the FEC opted out of holding Trump accountable for “soft money” violations his campaign had previously acknowledged.

Trump has teased the prospect of another race since before he left office. At a White House Christmas party in December 2020, Trump told guests it had “been an incredible four years.”

“We’re trying to do another four years. Otherwise I’ll see you in four years,” he said.

Since then, he’s hinted at his plans in nearly every appearance and interview, telling conservative hosts and Trump-friendly audiences he’s waiting to make an announcement after midterm because it would trigger funding laws. campaigns.

“I know what I’m going to do, but we’re not supposed to talk about it yet from the perspective of campaign finance laws, which are frankly ridiculous, okay?” Trump said during a September visit with first responders when asked if he would run again. “But we have to live with it. But I think you’ll be happy.”

“We’ve done it twice and we will do it again,” he said at a rally last month. “We will do it again, a third time.”

“We may have to run again,” Trump said Saturday in South Carolina, as he campaigned for two Republican candidates who were mounting major challenges to House members he said had been disloyal to him. .

“In 2024, we’re going to take over this beautiful, beautiful White House. I wonder who will do that. I wonder. I wonder.”

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Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.