FBI Investigating Possible Illegal Donations To Susan Collins' 2020 Campaign

A search warrant alleges the former CEO of a defense contractor funneled more than $150,000 through a shell company to the GOP senator's campaign.

The FBI is investigating possible illegal contributions from a defense contractor to Sen. Susan Collins’ (R-Maine) 2020 reelection campaign, a newly unsealed search warrant revealed.

The warrant, filed April 7 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, requests access to a hard drive as part of its probe into the Hawaii-based contractor Navatek, which rebranded itself last year as Martin Defense Group.

Investigators believe the company’s former CEO, Martin Kao, illegally funneled money from Navatek through a shell company to a political action committee supporting Collins’ campaign. The warrant also alleged that Kao illegally reimbursed family members for their donations to her campaign.

In August 2019, Collins announced that Navatek had received a Defense Department contract worth $8 million. In a press release about the contract, Collins said she had “strongly advocated” for the funding and was “so proud” of the company’s work.

Roughly three months later, Kao’s wife, Tiffany Lam, created an LLC named The Society of Young Women Scientist and Engineers to funnel $150,000 from Navatek to the pro-Collins 1820 PAC, according to the warrant, which was first reported by Axios.

Campaign finance law prohibits federal contractors from making political campaign contributions. It also bars individuals from making contributions under someone else’s name.

Kao and Lam did not immediately respond to messages from HuffPost seeking comment.

Investigators alleged that Kao reimbursed several family members for personal donations to Collins’ campaign that totaled roughly $44,000. The mother of Navatek’s then chief financial officer, Clifford Chen, told law enforcement officials that her son gave her money and asked her to donate to Collins’ campaign, which she did, according to the warrant.

There’s no indication Collins was aware of the alleged misconduct. A spokeswoman for Collins said in a statement that the campaign had “absolutely no knowledge of anything alleged in the warrant.”

The allegedly fraudulent contributions constitute just a fraction of the total amount of money raised for Collins’ reelection bid. The senator’s campaign committee alone raked in roughly $30 million between 2015 and 2020.

A representative of the Martin Defense Group told The Washington Post that Kao and others implicated in the matter are “no longer employees” of the company. Martin Defense Group is “fully cooperating with the government investigation,” the representative told the Post.