CLEVELAND ― The revelation that Donald Trump’s business staff writer Meredith McIver wrote the partly plagiarized speech given by Melania Trump on Monday night raises questions about whether his campaign is illegally commingling corporate and campaign resources.
McIver does not appear to have any official role in the presidential campaign. Her letter acknowledging her role in the speech debacle appeared on corporate letterhead from the Trump Organization. And she is not listed as being paid by the Trump campaign on any available reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
Corporations are banned from donating directly or through in-kind services to political campaigns. McIver could have volunteered her services, but her offer to resign from the Trump Organization suggests that she was acting within her job responsibilities. (Donald Trump rejected that offer.)
“Given the identification of McIver as an ‘in-house staff writer’ at the Trump Organization in both the statement and letter, and her resignation from the Trump Organization ― printed on Trump Organization stationery ― and not the campaign, it appears that corporate resources may have been used to prepare the speech,” said Jordan Libowitz, communications director for the campaign finance watchdog Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “That would make the speech an illegal in-kind corporate contribution from the Trump Organization to the campaign.”
Larry Noble, general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center and former general counsel for the FEC, agreed that McIvers’ role “raises a lot of red flags.”
Those red flags include the use of company letterhead and the fact that McIver never mentions working for the campaign in her offer to resign from the corporation. Noble said that the campaign could technically pay the Trump Organization for an employee’s work, but he added that Trump’s use of his company employees looks to be unprecedented in modern political campaigns.
“It raises the question of whether anyone who works for the corporation also works for the campaign,” Noble said. The Trump campaign’s use of Trump Organization resources is “on a scale we’ve never seen before.”
A spokeswoman for the Trump campaign did not immediately reply to a request for comment from The Huffington Post.
Christina Wilkie contributed reporting.