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If Trump Paid a Stripper To Be Quiet, Is That a Campaign Expenditure?

December 18th, 2018 Leave a comment Go to comments

One thing I’ve wondered about is the difference it makes if the expenditure is by the candidate himself. Suppose Trump paid for it all. Or suppose Edwards had paid his woman to keep quiet. In that case, it would be very hard to call it a campaign expense. There is also little reason (no reason?) to have a law reporting even real campaign expenses– we already know the candidate supports himself. If someone with no connection to the candidate, on the other hand, except for supporting his candidacy pays for some of his expenses, then even if those are not campaign expenses, the public should know. Otherwise, we could, for example, have maxed-out donor Smith make candidate Jones’s mortgage payments for him, and Jones could use the money he saved to buy TV ads.

A law question: What is the burden of proof for the mens rea? Would it be necessary to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that President Trump knew the payments were illegal campaign contributions? Or by preponderance of the evidence? Either one would be impossible, I think, since legal experts are divided and courts have not spoken on the subject. I doubt even Cohen thought they were campaign expenditures, even though it seems he has pleaded guilty to knowing it.
Yet another law question: what is the usual penalty for evading a million dollars in taxes? It sure seems here that Cohen has pleaded guilty to X, which he didn’t do, in order to receive leniency on Y, which he did do.

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