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The alleged hush money President Donald Trump’s laywer paid to porn star Stormy Daniels for her to keep quiet about a sexual encounter could have been an illegal campaign contribution, a campaign finance watchdog organization said in a complaint filed Monday.
The organization, Common Cause, called on the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission to investigate the payment of $130,000 reportedly made to Daniels by Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The complaint said the payment could have been an “unreported in-kind contribution,” which would violate campaign finance laws.
The payment could be troublesome for Trump if Cohen was working on behalf of the campaign and did not disclose it.
In a statement, Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn emphasized the importance of financial transparency spent in elections “no matter how embarrassing the reason behind the expense.”
“Candidates and their attorneys cannot choose how and when to comply with federal campaign finance laws,” Flynn’s statement said. “We strongly urge the Justice Department and the FEC to fully investigate these apparent illegal activities and if appropriate to take action to hold the President and his campaign accountable.”
Trump has not publicly addressed the allegations of the encounter with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. She had said that she had sex with Trump after meeting him in 2006 at a golf tournament. Trump’s lawyer, Cohen, has denied there was an affair and gave the Wall Street Journal a statement allegedly from Daniels denying that she received “hush money.”
The Journal reported earlier this month that corporate documents and sources showed Cohen set up a company in October 2016 and sent $130,000 from a bank account in the company’s name to an account connected to Daniels’ lawyer.
After the Journal reported that Cohen had paid Daniels $130,000, a second porn actress, Alana Evans, came forward to confirm Daniels’ account of her relationship with Trump, saying she was also invited to Trump’s hotel room.
Kris Seavers is the IRL editor for the Daily Dot. Her work has appeared in Central Texas publications, including Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine, and on NPR.