Members of the Parliaments of Iceland, Great Britain, Scotland and Australia were surprised this week to find multiple fundraising emails from Donald Trump in their inboxes, asking for donations for his Presidential bid. And it was not just one member of Parliament, it seems to have been all of them. Many of the email addresses have clearly foreign suffixes like “.is” and “.uk.”
These emails must have originated from inside the Trump campaign, as it seems unlikely that all of these people would have signed up for the list. While the email addresses are available for the public, it also seems unlikely that these addresses were entered as a prank, as the respondent would have to click through the confirmation email in order to be added to the list. Much more likely is that the Trump campaign purchased a list of email addresses and didn’t bother to even check the suffixes before entering them into their fundraising database.
It turns out that soliciting funds from foreign nationals is illegal, and the watchdog group Democracy 21 has filed a complaint with the FEC. The Federal Election Commission rules are quite clear:
The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) prohibits any foreign national from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly. It is also unlawful to help foreign nationals violate that ban or to solicit, receive or accept contributions or donations from them. Persons who knowingly and willfully engage in these activities may be subject to fines and/or imprisonment.
This is a serious breach of election rules, one that could mean big fines or even possible prison time for the candidate. A more experienced and professional campaign would have never made such a mistake. It will be interesting to see the FEC’s response. They have already begun an investigation.