It’s only been about a week since Donald Trump started emailing supporters to solicit campaign donations, asking them to make “this the most successful first fundraising email ever.” The new fundraising kick, though, seems to have already failed in one crucial regard: obeying basic election laws.
As Bloomberg reports, a pair of nonpartisan watchdog groups filed complaints to the Federal Election Commission on Wednesday after Trump’s campaign reportedly emailed foreign government officials to solicit cash, a violation of federal law.
The Washington Post noted that fundraising emails were sent to lawmakers in the United Kingdom, Iceland, Australia, and other countries.
“We’ve set another Trump-sized goal to raise another $10 million by Thursday at midnight. Please chip in what you can to help make Donald J. Trump the next President of the United States,” said one of the emails, which was sent to a conservative in the House of Commons named Sir Roger Gale.
“I don’t know if someone at Team Trump was stupid enough to think that all Conservative Party MPs would consider themselves Republicans,” Gale told the Post. “But I asked around, and it seems that most others did get these emails, too.”
The Post also quoted an Icelandic leftist politician who was solicited by Trump. “I am a Left-Green politician and would not support his campaign,” she said.
Trump’s campaign did not respond to request for comment from the two news organizations. It’s still unclear whether the fundraising effort was intentional or accidental, which would determine how bad of a violation this actually was. It’s also against the law to accept money from foreign nationals, so presumably if any of the people on this list actually donated then those contributions would have to be returned.
“If it's a knowing and willful violation, it could be criminal,” Bob Biersack, a former longtime FEC staffer who could not remember something like this having happened before, told Bloomberg.
“If the solicitations were sent in error, it's not clear what action the FEC would take,” the wire service reported.