American Conservative Union agrees to pay fine for passing donation to super PAC

American Conservative Union agrees to pay fine for passing donation to super PAC

The American Conservative Union (ACU) has agreed to pay part of a $350,000 fine to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to settle claims that it illegally passed a $1.71 million donation to a super PAC, according to a statement released by a watchdog on Monday.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a liberal non-profit watchdog, filed a complaint in 2015 against the ACU, which is best known for organizing the Conservative Political Action Conference.

The ACU told The Hill that it reported the donation, which was made before Matt Schlapp took over as the organization's chairman in 2014, to the FEC.

"The conciliation agreement with the Federal Election Commission relates to decisions made five years ago by ACU’s previous chairman and previous executive director, both of whom no longer have any affiliation with the organization," the ACU said in a statement.

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The agreement with the FEC says that in October 2012, Government Integrity LLC donated $1.8 million to the ACU, which later that same day made a $1.71 million donation to the Now or Never PAC.

The agreement cites emails in which ACU’s then-national finance director admits getting paid $90,000 for completing the transfer. The agreement also states that the “ACU would have had insufficient funds to make this contribution without the funds it received from Government Integrity LLC earlier that same day.”

The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 prohibits any person from making a contribution in the name of another person, knowingly permitting his or her name to be used to effect such a contribution, or knowingly accepting such a contribution.

“This is one of the clearest cases we’ve seen of laundering money through a dark money nonprofit to conceal the source of a political contribution,” CREW Executive Director Noah Bookbinder said in the statement.

“Given the egregious facts, even the often dysfunctional FEC had no choice but to act.”

The ACU, Government Integrity LLC and the Now or Never PAC will pay the fine.

Julia Manchester contributed to this report, which was updated on Nov. 21 at 8:08 a.m.