Dec. 2, 2016 – Today, The Campaign Legal Center presented new evidence to the Federal Election Commission alleging that the super PAC Make America Number 1 illegally compensated Steve Bannon’s work as Donald Trump’s campaign CEO. Make America Number 1 is largely funded by hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and chaired by Rebekah Mercer, who is now on Trump’s transition team.
After Bannon joined Trump’s campaign in August, the Mercer-backed Make America Number 1 paid nearly $280,000 to “Glittering Steel LLC,” a production company described as “a front for Bannon” which is located at the same address as Bannon’s consulting firm. During that same period the Trump campaign reported no payments to Bannon.
“The evidence suggests a Mercer-backed super PAC secretly subsidized Steve Bannon’s work for the Trump campaign by funneling $280,000 in payments to a firm described as a ‘front’ for Bannon,” said Brendan Fischer, associate counsel at the Campaign Legal Center.
Additionally, Make America Number 1 paid at least $4,633,876 to Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm incorporated at the same address as Bannon’s consulting firm whose board includes both Bannon and Robert Mercer. Trump also contracted with Cambridge Analytica, indicating that Make America Number 1 ran afoul of the “common vendor” rule designed to preserve the independence of campaigns and political committees. The Trump campaign began contracting with Cambridge Analytica at the request of the Mercer family.
“Once Bannon was taken on as CEO of Trump’s campaign and continued to be paid by Mercer’s entities, this became an issue,” said Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal center. “It is especially concerning now that Bannon is White House chief strategist. Bannon’s compensation shows the pervasive influence of the Mercer family of donors in the Trump orbit.”
The letter is a follow-up to the complaint filed by CLC on Oct. 6. That complaint described the significant overlap between Make America Number 1 and the Trump campaign. The Chair of Make America Number 1, Rebekah Mercer, requested that Trump hire Bannon as his campaign CEO, and two former presidents of the super PAC became Trump’s campaign manager and deputy campaign manager, reportedly at Mercer’s suggestions.
CLC also filed complaints against super PACs supporting Trump’s Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.