WASHINGTON - August 16 - Earlier today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) requesting an investigation into whether Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert’s campaign committee illegally accepted campaign contributions from foreign nationals in 2000 and 2001.
CREW based its complaint on an article appearing in the September issue of Vanity Fair in which it was reported that former F.B.I. translator Sibel Edomonds reviewed wiretap recordings involving an F.B.I. target at Chicago, Illinois’s Turkish Consulate, as well as members of the American-Turkish Council and the Assembly of Turkish American Associations. According to Ms. Edmonds, the recordings indicated that an F.B.I. target had arranged for tens of thousands of dollars of campaign contributions to be sent to Rep. Hastert’s campaign committee in small (i.e., less than $200) checks that did not have to be itemized.
Hastert for Congress received $110,860.75 in unitemized contributions in 2001 and $72,275 in unitemized contributions in 2000.
Federal election campaign law strictly prohibits foreign nationals from making political contributions and prohibits political committees from accepting campaign contributions from foreign nationals. If a committee receives a contribution of questionable legality, it must make at least one written or oral request for evidence that the contribution is legal and either confirm the legality of the contribution or refund the contribution.
Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director, stated “if Hastert for Congress received an unusually large number of contributions in amounts just under $200 in a relatively condensed period of time, the treasurer’s suspicions should have been raised, particularly if many of these checks appeared to be made out by individuals with foreign names.” “As a result,” Sloan continued, “the treasurer should have followed the procedures outlined by the FEC to discover whether, in fact, the campaign illegally received contributions from foreign nationals.”
“The sheer number of small contributions should have raised a red flag. Hastert’s campaign committee was obligated to ensure that no laws were being broken. It is now time for a thorough investigation into Hastert’s finances.”