Free Speech For People Files FEC Complaint Against American Media, Inc. and Trump Campaign calling for “an immediate investigation”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – February 20, 2018 – On Friday, February 16, 2018, Free Speech For People filed a complaint before the Federal Election Commission demanding “an immediate investigation” into a payment of $150,000 from American Media, Inc. to Ms. Karen McDougal and whether or not that payment was an unreported in-kind contribution to President Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign committee and an unreported expenditure by the committee – because the funds were paid to Ms. McDougal for the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential general election.

American Media Inc., the company that owns the National Enquirer, paid $150,000 for exclusive rights to a story of Karen McDougal and her affair with Donald J. Trump in 2006-07. McDougal’s earlier efforts to sell her story to the Enquirer had failed, but AMI began serious negotiations after Trump clinched the nomination. The deal was reach in August 2016. After purchasing the rights to the story, the National Enquirer, opted not to publish the story, a practice known as “catch and kill” in the tabloid business.

“The timing of the deal, and the AMI CEO’s close relationship with Trump, suggest that the decision not to publish might not have been a journalistic decision,” says Shanna Cleveland, Senior Counsel for Free Speech For People and the author of the complaint. “The payment may have been an effort to conceal a politically embarrassing fact and influence the 2016 general election. If that’s the case, the payment is a direct violation of the Federal Elections Campaign Act.”

Read the full complaint here.