Amid a extremely tight race for the governor’s mansion in Virginia, Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe is facing allegations of campaign finance violations involving significant funds received from a foreign-owned entity entangled in money laundering and tax fraud investigations, as the Washington Free Beacon reports.
According to a filing from the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), the watchdog group is requesting the Federal Election Commission to initiate an investigation of whether a $350,000 contribution McAuliffe received in July from LycaTel LLC.
The complaint states that the company in question is owned by a Sri Lankan-British national and is an offshoot of a U.K. telecommunications giant known for its tangle of offshore enterprises as well as a history of money-laundering and tax fraud probes in France.
It is worth noting that LycaTel has no known history of donating to prior campaigns for federal office or for state races in Virginia. Back in the summer, the firm hired lobbyist Robert Thompson to advocate on “Telecom” matters, the Free Beacon noted, and he had previously been registered as a foreign agent representing LycaTel’s leadership.
It is illegal under federal law for political campaigns to accept donations from foreign businesses or individuals, and while American-based entities under the umbrella of foreign companies can make contributions, they cannot be done at the behest of offshore leadership.
As Ben Freeman, director of the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative at the Center for International Policy explained , “This is effectively a really easy way to launder foreign money into the U.S. political process and to avoid the FEC prohibition on foreign nationals making contributions in U.S. elections.”
McAuliffe’s receipt of significant funds during the current election cycle is extremely problematic, according to Paul Kamenar, attorney for the NLPC, who insisted that it is incumbent on the FEC to conduct a thorough investigation of the donation.
When asked for comment on the NLPC’s filing and the donation more broadly, LycaTel did not respond to the Free Beacon, and neither did the McAuliffe campaign.
Given recent polling showing McAuliffe falling behind Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin in the waning days of the race, it may turn out that even the Democrat’s willingness to accept illegal contributions will not be enough to put him over the top on Election Day.