A source familiar with the matter told TPM Wednesday that a “livid” President Donald Trump called his 2020 campaign manager, Brad Parscale, before the campaign released a veiled, biting statement aimed at 2016 deputy campaign manager David Bossie.
The rebuke was apparently in response to a joint report from Axios and the Campaign Legal Center which showed that a group run by Bossie, the Presidential Coalition, was using scammy fundraising techniques and boasting of Bossie’s connections to Trump in order to raise money.
Something stuck out in the campaign’s statement, though. While it named several legitimate Trump-connected fundraisers — like the Trump campaign itself and the Republican National Committee — it also endorsed an “outside non-campaign group,” a super PAC in this case, called America First Action (AFA).
Behind the Trump campaign itself and the RNC, AFA was the top purchaser of Parscale’s services in the 2018 election cycle, according to FEC data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. The group, as the Washington Post’s David Fahrenthold noted, also spends quite a bit at Trump’s properties.
The fourth endorsed fundraising group on the list, Trump Victory Committee, is a joint committee operated by the RNC, Trump’s campaign and various state-level Republican committees.
In addition to Vice President Mike Pence and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin addressed the Victory Committee Tuesday, a day after he rejected Congress’ request for Trump’s tax returns. He wasn’t on the invitation’s agenda, The Washington Post noted. To avoid breaking the law, there was no mention of his official title — nor, presumably, his duty to regulate the many financial organizations represented in the room of wealthy donors.
Others senior officials, like former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Housing Secretary Ben Carson, have provided examples of what not to do when it comes to the Hatch Act, which prohibits executive branch officials from using their positions in a political capacity.
Conway, though, is the administration’s true serial offender. A year ago, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel found that Conway violated the Hatch Act twice by pontificating about the Alabama special Senate election on the side of then-candidate Roy Moore.
The watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington recently filed yet another Hatch Act complaint against Conway, again for her attacks against Democratic political candidates against the backdrop of the White House. A separate Hatch Act investigation, CREW noted, is currently underway into Conway’s political messaging. And she was among the first in the administration to receive a slap on the wrist regarding ethics rules following her promotion of Ivanka Trump’s products from the White House briefing room. She was “counseled,” then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.
Two notes on regulation: The Trump administration Interior Department has moved to cut back regulations on offshore oil drilling put in place after the disastrous Deepwater Horizon spill of 2010. And: Reveal, the investigative outlet, was a Pulitzer finalist for its reporting on home loan discrimination. Now, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is taking that information off-line.