Throughout the 2016 Republican presidential primary, former Florida governor and current Miami businessman Jeb Bush
But it turns out that folks tied to Bush also apparently enjoy bouts of law-breaking. The Federal Election Commission today announced that it had levied a near-record-setting $390,000 fine against a pro-Jeb political action committee after that PAC accepted $1.3 million in illegal contributions from the Chinese-owned corporation American Pacific International Capital. Inc., or APIC.
Notably, Neil Bush — brother of Jeb and George W. Bush — sat on APIC's board.
A nonprofit watchdog group, the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), filed a formal complaint with the FEC after the news organization the Intercept laid out in stark detail how Chinese businessmen were illegally funneling money to a PAC called Right to
Bush founded the PAC in January 2015 but relinquished control of it that June after he formally announced a run for office. (Candidates are, technically, not supposed to have associations with political action committees, but those rules are routinely broken.) A Republican political consultant, Mike Murphy, took over the PAC. Bush, who was then the primary's frontrunner, went on to commit one of the saddest political choke-jobs in American history. He was flattened by Trump, a man who recently referred to Apple CEO Tim Cook as "Tim Apple." (Bush also recently put his ritzy Coral Gables home up for sale for $1.8 million.) But we digress.
HUGE: @FEC has levied its biggest fine since Citizens United & 3rd largest in history after investigation found pro-Jeb! Bush super PAC Right to Rise illegally took $1.3 million donation from Chinese-owned corporation—breaking federal law barring foreign interference in elections pic.twitter.com/qujTg9ZI0n— Anna Massoglia (@annalecta) March 11, 2019
In August 2016, Intercept reporters Jon Schwarz and Lee Fang wrote that APIC, which was owned by two Chinese nationals — Gordon Tang and Huaidan Chen — sent $1 million and $300,000 donations to Right to Rise in 2015. The Intercept also obtained documents showing that APIC received legal advice from Charlie Spies, one of the most prominent Republican campaign-finance lawyers in America.
Speaking with the Intercept, Huaidan Chen's brother, Wilson Chen, said that his family is "very lucky" to know the Bushes and that the
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Shortly after the Intercept published its story, the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a formal FEC complaint. This past Friday, the FEC took action. In addition to fining Bush's PAC $390,000, the commission levied $550,000 in penalties against APIC.
This story could never have happened without our collaborator @yuenok in Hong Kong. Listen to her speaking to the Chinese businessman behind this massive violation of campaign finance law as he tries to bribe her: https://t.co/Ac1uFDKtNF https://t.co/y9AEFJu1wy— Jon Schwarz (@schwarz) March 11, 2019
The fines are among the largest penalties the FEC has dished out since the Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010, which ushered in an unprecedented flood of corporate campaign money. Critics, including the CLC, have said the Citizens United decision made it easier for foreign nationals to donate illegally to U.S. races.
“Today’s action is a rare and remarkable step by the