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Feds Investigating Alleged Illegal Donations to Collins Re-Election Campaign

The FBI is investigating what it has alleged is a massive scheme to illegally finance Senator Susan Collins’ (R-ME) 2020 re-election bid, the website Axios revealed on Tuesday.

According to Axios, a recently unsealed search warrant application shows the FBI believes a Hawaii defense contractor illegally funneled $150,000 to a pro-Collins super PAC and also reimbursed donations to Collins’ campaign.

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Collins had helped the contractor at issue, then called Navatek and since renamed the Martin Defense Group, secure an $8 million Navy contract before most of the donations took place.
Former Navatek CEO Martin Kao was indicted last year for allegedly bilking the federal government of millions in coronavirus relief loans.

It’s illegal for government contractors to donate to federal political committees, and investigators suspect the donations were attempts to evade that law. According to the FBI, both Kao and his wife set up a fake LLC called the Society for Young Women Scientists and Engineers. Navatek then wrote the LLC a $150,000 check, investigators say, which was passed on to the super PAC.

Investigators say bank records also show that Kao illegally reimbursed family members who donated to Collins’ campaign and that Navatek reimbursed some of Kao’s colleagues for their contributions. Known as a “straw” donation, the practice is prohibited by law. The Collins campaign’s fundraising solicitations also require donors to certify that they are in fact donating their own funds.

There’s no indication that Collins or her team were aware of any of the illegal donations, according to a statement from her office. “The Collins for Senator Campaign had absolutely no knowledge of anything alleged in the warrant,” Collins spokesperson Annie Clark told Axios in an emailed statement.

 



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