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FEC fines Hillary Clinton, DNC for lying about funding of Trump-Russia dossier hoax

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Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

The Federal Election Commission has fined Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee for violating federal law by lying in reports about its funding of the since-discredited Steele Dossier, a newly issued memo showed.

What are the details?

The Coolidge-Reagan Foundation first filed a complaint with the elections commission in 2018, requesting that the Clinton campaign and the DNC be held accountable for various violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act with regard to their funding of the dossier, which was used to launch an investigation into then-candidate Donald Trump, but which was later determined to be fake.

In a memo sent Tuesday, the FEC informed the foundation that following a review, it agreed with the allegations. The Washington Examiner was the first to report on the news.

"After conducting an investigation in this matter, the Commission found probable cause to believe that the DNC Services Corp./Democratic National Committee and Virginia McGregor in her official capacity as treasurer violated [52 U.S. Code § 30104] and [11 Code of Federal Regulations 104.3]," the memo stated.

"The Commission further found probable cause to believe that Hillary for America and Elizabeth Jones in her official capacity as treasurer violated [52 U.S. Code § 30104] and [11 Code of Federal Regulations 104.3]," it continued.

The reported violations had to do with various provisions of federal law regarding reporting requirements. In response to the violations, the FEC levied fines against Clinton’s treasurer and the DNC’s treasurer of $8,000 and $105,000, respectively.

The memo also noted that on Feb. 17, the FEC received signed conciliation agreements from the DNC and the Clinton campaign.

What's the background?

The infamous dossier, once used to launch the FBI's Trump-Russia probe, became the subject of widespread scrutiny in the years following Trump's election to the presidency.

Besides revelations that its contents were fabricated, the scandalous document was heavily scrutinized for its questionable sources — which ultimately turned out to be Hillary Clinton's campaign and her counterparts in the DNC.

In the memo, the FEC found that the Clinton campaign and the DNC violated strict reporting laws when they claimed a combined $1,024,407 payment to law firm Perkins Coie LLP for Fusion GPS’s information on the dossier was for legal reasons, and not opposition research.

The two political bodies defended their reporting, arguing the payments were technically made to the law firm, which in turn paid for the opposition research. But the FEC found the reasoning lacking and determined the law had been clearly violated.

Court records on the case are expected to be made public in the next month.

Anything else?

Dan Backer, who brought the complaint on behalf of the Coolidge-Reagan Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on free speech and the First Amendment, celebrated the FEC's decision.

Backer told the Washington Examiner, "This may well be the first time that Hillary Clinton — one of the most evidently corrupt politicians in American history — has actually been held legally accountable, and I'm proud to have forced the FEC to do their job for once. The Coolidge Reagan Foundation proved that with pluck and grit, Americans who stand with integrity can stand up to the Clinton machine and other corrupt political elites."

The FEC noted that neither the Clinton campaign nor the DNC conceded to lying in the reports but decided not to contest the findings.

"Solely for the purpose of settling this matter expeditiously and to avoid further legal costs, respondent does not concede, but will not further contest the commission's finding of probable cause to believe," each said, according to the memo.

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