Donald Trump’s reelection campaign paid more than $2.7 million over two years to businesses and individuals that organized the rally in Washington which sparked the deadly storming of the U.S. Capitol earlier this month, according to campaign finance records.
The startling payments were tallied by the Center for Responsive Politics in a report issued Friday. The Associated Press first revealed some of the payments last week, along with the critical involvement of Trump campaign money and actors in the event that instigated the Capitol riot, which claimed five lives, including that of a U.S. Capitol Police officer.
The center warned that the full extent of involvement by the Trump campaign and supporters may never be known because of dark money hidden in shell companies.
Eight paid Trump campaign officials were listed on the permit issued by the National Park Service for the rally, according to records. One of them, Maggie Mulvaney — the niece of Trump’s former chief of staff Mick Mulvaney — was paid $138,000 by the campaign through Nov. 23, which is the latest date covered by the most recent required campaign finance filings. She was listed on the permit as the “VIP lead” for the rally and worked as the Trump campaign’s “director of finance operations.”
Mick Mulvaney, who had become the special envoy to Northern Ireland, said he left the Trump administration this month in protest against the attack on the Capitol. “I was shocked, I was angered, I was sad, I was embarrassed,” Mulvaney told Fox News host Chris Wallace, who pressed him on his responsibility for enabling Trump.
Event Strategies Inc. got the lion’s share of payments — $1.7 million from the Trump campaign and a joint fundraising committee, according to records. Company owners — Justin Caporale, the Trump campaign’s advance director, and Tim Unes — were identified on the permit as rally production and stage managers.
Event Strategies also received $2.1 million from the Trump-affiliated dark money group America First Policies from 2018 to 2019, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
On Jan. 6, Trump urged his supporters in a speech at the rally to go to the Capitol, and “fight” to seize the election. “You’ll never take back our country with weakness,” he exhorted. “You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
Among others listed on the permit for that rally was Megan Powers, who worked as director of operations of the Trump campaign as recently as this month, according to her LinkedIn profile. She was paid $290,000 by the campaign from February 2019 through Nov. 23, according to the finance filings. She was listed on the rally permit as an operations manager.
Republican fundraiser Caroline Wren, identified as a rally adviser on the permit, and “backstage manager” Ronald Holden also received funds from the Trump campaign.
Between mid-March and mid-November, Donald J. Trump for President Inc. paid Wren $20,000 a month, according to Federal Election Commission records, The Associated Press reported. During the campaign, she was national finance consultant for Trump Victory, a joint fundraising committee of Trump’s reelection campaign and the Republican National Committee, AP noted.
The nonprofit Women for America, which was the first group to request a rally permit, was given a $25,000 grant in 2019 by another pro-Trump nonprofit, America First Priorities, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
“The Trump campaign’s FEC reports really only provide a snapshot of who was paid by the campaign,” Brendan Fischer, the director of federal reform at the Campaign Legal Center, told OpenSecrets. “Using FEC reports to identify Trump campaign aides involved in the January 6 riot has its limits, because we don’t fully know who the campaign was paying.”
After AP broke the story about the Trump campaign links to the rally, a spokesman said in a statement that Trump’s reelection campaign “did not organize, operate or finance the event.” The statement insisted that no campaign staff members were involved in the organization or operation of the rally and that if any former employees or independent contractors were involved, “they did not do so at the direction of the Trump campaign.”
The same statement was provided to Bloomberg after the Center for Responsive Politics issued its report.
The FBI is investigating whether money from enemy states or organizations may have also helped fund the storming of the Capitol. It’s looking into a mysterious $500,000 Bitcoin payment before the raid to extremist figures and groups that apparently was sent by a French national who later died by suicide.