FEC complaints filed over allegations Murdoch gave Kushner unaired Biden political ads

Complaints have been filed with the Federal Election Commission over allegations that Fox Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch shared unaired political advertisements and debate strategy from President Biden’s 2020 campaign with Jared Kushner, former President Trump’s son-in-law and then-senior adviser.

complaint was filed by progressive nonprofit Media Matters, arguing that Murdoch broke the law by sharing the ads. NBC News reported on Friday that End Citizens United PAC filed a similar complaint to the FEC.  

The revelation that Murdoch shared the ads was first made public in a lawsuit against Fox by Dominion Voting Systems, who is suing Murdoch and the company for defamation by airing false claims peddled by Trump in the weeks following the 2020 election.

The FEC complaint by Media Matters alleges that by sharing rival political ads with the Trump campaign, Murdoch was making “an illegal corporate in-kind contribution” that can’t be protected by a press exemption and that in turn the Trump campaign accepted such a contribution illegally.

“This ‘distribution’ is diametrically opposed to Fox Corporation’s regular press activity broadcasting news programming through television and radio outlets and online publications,” the complaint read. “Murdoch’s secret conveyance of the Biden advertisement is even less like press activity than a cablecasting company sending campaign flyers in its bills — and neither can be protected by the press exemption.”

The complaint includes allegations that Murdoch sent over the Biden ads “through a private, and secret, direct communication” that, together with the fact that the ads had not aired and weren’t available to the public, highlights the non-press nature of the information-sharing. 

“Fox Corporation, through Murdoch, appears to have engaged in the exact type of campaign activity to which the Commission has repeatedly affirmed the press exemption does not apply. Therefore, Fox Corporation cannot try to exploit the press exemption to avoid the consequences of making an illegal corporate in-kind contribution,” the complaint read.

“Respondent’s actions are not only an egregious violation of the Act and the Commission’s regulations, but also a nefarious attempt by people in power to operate a press entity as a political organization, in blatant disregard of the rules that govern our elections and democracy,” according to the complaint.

Media Matters asks the FEC to fine Murdoch the “maximum amount permitted by law and take appropriate remedial action.”

Murdoch admitted last week that some top Fox News hosts endorsed Trump’s false claims of election fraud during the 2020 election after a court filing in the Dominion suit purportedly showed some at the network knew the claims were unfounded but reported otherwise on air.

A Fox Corp. spokesperson said in a statement that the ad Murdoch sent was “already-publicly available.”

“Mr. Murdoch forwarded an already-publicly available Biden campaign ad which was available on YouTube and had even run on public airwaves. Dominion has been caught red handed again using more distortions and misinformation in their PR campaign to smear FOX News and trample on free speech and freedom of the press,” the spokesperson said.

The Hill has reached out the Trump campaign and the White House for comment.

Updated: 8:34 p.m. ET

Tags Donald Trump Fox News Jared Kushner Joe Biden Rupert Murdoch

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