FEC Fines Clinton Campaign, DNC for Funding Steele Dossier Democrat presidential candidate Hillary Clinton at a rally at the Duggal Greenhouse in the Brooklyn Navy Yard on June 7, 2016, in Brooklyn. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
By Charlie McCarthy | Wednesday, 30 March 2022 01:46 PM
The Federal Election Commission has fined Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for lying about funding a discredited dossier, which attempted to smear then-candidate Donald Trump, the Washington Examiner reported.
A dossier written by former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele was circulated to the FBI and media outlets before the 2016 election. Its unproven assertions that Russia had embarrassing information about Trump and some of his campaign's advisers were meant to damage Trump.
The FEC said Clinton and the DNC violated strict rules on describing expenditures of payments funneled to the opposition research firm Fusion GPS through their law firm, the Examiner reported Wednesday.
The FEC, in a memo to the Coolidge Reagan Foundation, which filed a complaint more than three years ago, said it fined Clinton's treasurer $8,000 and the DNC's treasurer $105,000.
"This may well be the first time that Hillary Clinton — one of the most evidently corrupt politicians in American history — has actually been held legally accountable, and I'm proud to have forced the FEC to do their job for once," Dan Backer, who brought the complaint on behalf of the foundation, which focuses on free speech and the First Amendment, told the Examiner.
The DNC and Clinton campaign claimed a combined $1,024,407.97 was paid for legal services, not opposition research, to law firm Perkins Coie for Fusion GPS' information.
The money — $849,407.97 from the DNC and $175,000 from the Clinton campaign — covered Fusion GPS' opposition research on the dossier, which fueled the so-called "Russia hoax."
The Clinton campaign and DNC argued they paid for "legal advice and services" because it was Perkins Coie, not them, that hired Fusion GPS. The FEC, however, said the law was clear and violated.
Clinton has in the past defended her campaign's spending for the information and the work of campaign lawyer Marc Elias, who worked for Fusion GPS, which compiled the dossier.
"Solely for the purpose of settling this matter expeditiously and to avoid further legal costs, respondent[s] does not concede, but will not further contest the commission's finding of probable cause to proceed," the FEC said in its memo.
News of the fine came less than a week after Trump sued Clinton and several other Democrats, alleging that they tried to rig the election by tying his campaign to Russia.
"Hillary Clinton and her cronies willfully engaged in the greatest political fraud in history — destroying our nation's faith in the electoral process, and it's high time they were held accountable," Backer told the Examiner. "I hope this is only the beginning."
Igor Danchenko, the primary researcher of the dossier, was arrested in November as part of special counsel John Durham's investigation. Danchenko was charged with "five counts of making false statements to the FBI."
Danchenko provided information to Steele, who compiled the accusations about Trump in a series of reports.
Durham in December told a federal court that, as part of his criminal probe into the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, he was examining members of Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.
In February, Durham alleged that indicted former Clinton campaign lawyer Michael Sussmann shared data purported to show rare Russian-made phones being used near the Trump White House as part of an alleged scheme to tie Trump to Russia.