Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows is under investigation after a year-end federal filing shows legal expenses that experts say indicate he may be in violation of campaign finance laws.
In October, the nonprofit government watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) requesting an investigation into Meadows, based on a report that detailed a series of violations of the prohibition on using campaign funds for personal expenses. Those payments covered gourmet cupcakes, grocery store purchases, a cell phone bill, expensive meals, and lodging at Donald Trump’s Washington hotel, according to filings with the FEC. Meadows’ campaign also spent thousands of dollars on “printed materials” at an upscale Washington-area custom jeweler on the day he left Congress for the White House, and the jewelry retailer has said it sells nothing that could be categorized that way.Filed last weekend by Meadows’ leadership PAC, Freedom First, which is an extension of his former campaign operation, shows only three expenses in the last month of the year, one of them an unexplained payment to the law firm Foley & Lardner for $6.339, designated for “PAC legal services.” Meadows is also under scrutiny for his role in recruiting QAnon Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene despite her illegal pre-election activities and hateful attacks on minorities and survivors of gun violence.
Read the @WashPost piece today on how Republicans like Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows actively recruited Marjorie Taylor Greene to run. She was no aberration. She is the GOP.
— Norman Ornstein (@NormOrnstein) February 1, 2021
Similar charges have landed other politicians in prison. Former Congressman Duncan Hunter, a California Republican, was sentenced for using his campaign account for personal expenses. Hunter expensed stays at hotels as well as meals at expensive restaurants, including one of the venues Meadows routinely expensed, the Capitol Hill Club, a favored hangout of House Republicans that is just around the corner from Republican National Committee headquarters. Meadows made a $1,100 purchase there on Jan. 13, 2020, the same day Hunter resigned from the House for his numerous campaign finance violations.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) February 3, 2021
While the FEC would enforce any possible civil actions that may arise from CREW’s complaint, the charges against Meadows could veer into criminal territory, attracting attention from the Department of Justice, as was the case for Hunter. In December, Trump pardoned Hunter, one of his earliest supporters in Congress, just before his scheduled 11-month prison stint. Meadows has not been accused of any crime to date but was reportedly also considered for a pardon list. In addition to possible campaign finance violations, Meadows could face legal jeopardy for his role in a now-infamous phone call during which Trump pressured Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” votes for him, an apparent solicitation of election fraud.