WASHINGTON — The Federal Election Commission fined the publisher of the National Enquirer $187,000 for payments the tabloid made to hide a story about former President Donald Trump’s ex-mistress while letting Trump and his campaign officials skirt any penalties.
The FEC reached a settlement with the publisher after a complaint from the watchdog group Common Cause, which released the details of the agency’s settlement. The FEC similarly recently declined to bring charges against Trump for directing payments of $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels, who claims she had sex with Trump.
The decisions not to prosecute Trump in both cases were deadlocked votes on the FEC’s board, with the two Republican commissioners voting to dismiss charges against the campaign.
In both cases, Common Cause had filed election-related complaints to the FEC.
In 2018, the owner of A360 Media LLC, then known as American Media Inc., admitted to paying $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal for exclusive rights to scandalous information about Trump. It was also later found that Trump had attended meetings with the tabloid owner prior to the media group intervening in the story.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, pleaded guilty to counts of campaign finance violations related to payments of the two women in 2018. Trump denies having relations with either woman.
The FEC report on the fine of A360 Media found that the firm’s executives “paid McDougal $150,000 to suppress her story from becoming public before the 2016 presidential election for the purpose of influencing that election” and that the act constituted “prohibited corporate in-kind contributions” to a political campaign.
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