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Watchdog accuses Trump campaign of hiding $170m in spending | USA News

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President Donald Trump’s re-election effort allegedly hid nearly $170m in spending from mandatory public disclosure by routing payments through companies tied to his former campaign manager, a government oversight group claimed on Tuesday.

The use of firms linked to former campaign manager Brad Parscale masked the ultimate recipients of the money, which the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) described as a “laundering” effort that violates election law, according to a complaint the group filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Trump communications director Tim Murtaugh disputed the allegations and said the “campaign complies with all campaign finance laws and FEC regulations”.

Most of the payments by Trump’s campaign committees were made to American Made Media Consultants, which has received at least $177m since 2018, according to FEC records. The other firm, Parscale Strategy, has collected at least $32m during that period, the records show.

The campaign said that American Made Media Consultants was formed to purchase advertising directly – and save money by not relying on middlemen. But records show the company instead acted as a clearinghouse for spending, while still using third-party vendors, which it was ostensibly created to avoid, the complaint states.

In at least two cases, outside firms owned by Trump’s digital director Gary Coby appeared to have been the firm tapped to make purchases or develop digital communication products, though there is no record of payments made to Coby in Trump’s campaign finance disclosures, according to the complaint.

Meanwhile, Parscale Strategy has been used to pay the salaries of some Trump re-election officials, including Lara Trump, the wife of Trump’s son Eric, and Kimberly Guilfoyle, the girlfriend of Trump’s eldest son, Don Jr, the complaint states.

Parscale, a political novice and ally of Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, ran Trump’s digital advertising in 2016 and was credited with helping bring about his surprise victory that year with micro-targeted online advertising campaigns on social media platforms such as Facebook.

Earlier this month, facing increasingly dismal poll numbers, Trump replaced Parscale as campaign manager with Republican operative Bill Stepien, who worked for former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and served as Trump’s national field director in 2016.

Trump and Parscale’s relationship had been increasingly strained in the run-up to the change, with the president annoyed by the publicity Parscale had garnered in the role. But the final straw appeared to be a Tulsa, Oklahoma, rally last month that drew an unexpectedly low crowd of about 6,200 people after Parscale had bragged that more than a million people had requested tickets.

Parscale remains employed by the campaign as a senior adviser for digital strategy.

In a statement, Murtaugh did not address the salaries paid through Parscale Strategies. But he said that American Made Media Consultants is not paid a fee and does not earn a commission.

“It builds efficiencies and saves the campaign money by providing these in-house services that otherwise would be done by outside vendors,” Murtaugh said. “The campaign reports all payments to AMMC as required by the FEC.”

Brendan Fischer, a lawyer with the CLC, said the campaign was improperly avoiding mandatory disclosure.

“This illegal conduit scheme leaves voters in the dark about the entities working for the Trump campaign, the nature of their services and the full amount they are paid,” Fischer said. “We don’t know all of what is being hidden by this scheme, but we do know that it violates the law.”

While the CLC bills itself as a non-partisan organisation and was founded by a Republican who once worked on late Senator John McCain’s 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns, its work in recent years has tended to be on behalf of left-of-centre causes such as felons’ voting rights and voter suppression issues. Its leadership includes veterans of the left-wing Southern Poverty Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union, and it received funding from ActBlue and the George Soros Open Society Foundations.

In any event, it is unlikely that the group’s complaint will be taken up by the FEC before the election. The federal agency can take years to address complaints and it often deadlocks along partisan lines.

Earlier this month, one longtime commissioner announced she was stepping down, denying the FEC enough members to legally meet to conduct business.





Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Another blow as Judge throws out Kiggundu’s lawyer Muwema

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When court sat on Friday to hear the Kiggundu’s application to stop independent audit, he did not have a written application, and Justice Henry Adonyo instead ordered the plaintiff’s lawyer Fred Muwema to go make a written application seeking court to dismiss the audit and return to court on September 30 for a hearing of the application. But this adds more pressure on Kiggundu who is choking with the loans.

On 31 August, the judge ordered the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) to carry out and independent audit into the accounts of the businessman and financial statements exchanged between the two parties, and present a report to court.

When asked by journalists why he has filed for an application seeking dismissal of the audit, Fred Muwema had this to say. “We are saying that let the validity and legality of those credit facilities (loans) be decided first before you can audit” He said.

The ruling on the application of the main suit to determine whether the businessman owes loan arrears to the bank is set for 5th October 2020, after which a date for hearing of the case will be set.

Background

Hamis Kiggundu through his companies Ham enterprises and Kiggs International (U) ltd sued DTB branches in Kenya and Uganda for deducting money from his accounts something which the bank contends and said they only acted as per the loan agreement of deducting 30% from Kiggundu’s accounts to recover the credit facilities rendered to him between February 2011 and September 2016

But Court documents filed by the bank in their defense shows that Kiggundu, between February 2011 and September 2016, was granted various credit facilities by the said DTB Banks.

First, via Ham Enterprises Limited, Kiggundu obtained a loan of $6,663,453 and another Sh2.5bn from the DTB (U) to finance his projects in the real estate business.

Later, according to New Vision, he got a facility worth $4.5m through Kiggs International (U) Limited from DTB (K) and mortgaged his properties, which include Plot 328 located at Kawuku on Block 248 Kyadondo, three plots that include 36, 37 and 38 on Folio 1533 Victoria Crescent II situated in Kyadondo and land on Makerere Hill Road on LRV 3716 Folio 10 Plot 923 Block 9.

Documents show that as of January 21, 2020, Kiggundu was in default on payment obligations of $6.298m on the loan facility of $6.663m, as well as sh2.885b on the demand overdraft facility of sh1.5b and the temporary demand overdraft facility of sh1b.

The banks say that Kiggundu was in default on the payment of another $3.662m out of a total loan facility of $4m and another $458,604 on a loan facility of $500,000, as of January 21, 2020.

The DTB consequently served him with a demand notice to either pay up or lose the assets that he submitted as collateral security. The bank threatened to attach a plot on Makerere Hill Road and other prime commercial properties.

Analysts says that Kiggundu’s lawyer is playing delaying tactics aimed at stopping the independent audit as ordered by the court earlier. Kiggundu had wanted court to believe his own audit of loan transactions, but that would amount to injustice to the banks that gave him money-DTB Uganda and DTB Kenya.

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Minister Rukutana charged with attempted murder, remanded

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The state minister for Labour, Gender and Economic Development Mwesigwa Rukutana has been remanded to Kyamugorani prison in Mbarara district.

Rukutana appeared before Ntungamo Grade One magistrate Nazifah Namayanja this afternoon from where he was charged with seven offences related to attempted murder, assault, malicious damage, and threatening violence.

Rukutana was captured in a video that went viral on social media showing him grabbing a gun from one of his bodyguards and started shooting at a vehicle belonging to supporters of his political rival Naome Kabasharira. At the time of the incident, Rukutana had just lost the Rushenyi country NRM flag to Kabasharira.

The prosecution alleges that on September 5, 2020, at Kagugu village in Ntungamo district, Rukutana and others still at large assaulted Julius Niwamanya and threatened to kill or injure him together with three others. The others are Stuart Kamukama, Dan Rwibirungi, and Moses Kamukama. 

It is also alleged that Rukutana also willfully and unlawfully damaged a motor vehicle registration number UAR 840X Toyota Rav 4 type which belongs to Moses Muhumuza.

According to the Judiciary public relations officer, Jameson Karemani, Rukutana has not taken a plea of these charges against him since they can only be tried by the chief magistrate who was not in court today.

As a result, the magistrate decided to send him to Kyamugorani, awaiting his return to court on Tuesday.      





Source – observer.ug

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Lira district headquarters closed over COVID-19

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Lira district headquarters have been closed after one staff tested positive for COVID-19 last week. 

On Monday morning, district staff were blocked at the gate with only the deputy chief administrative officer, his secretary and the receptionist allowed access to their offices. 

Paul Samuel Mbiiwa, the deputy chief administrative officer says that only heads of department will be allowed at the headquarters while the rest will work from home. He adds that the restriction will help to curb the spread of the virus.

“You see corona is not a joke. We have taken a step at fighting it and that is why you are seeing the staff outside. Even in my office here I do not want people to come if there is anything we can discuss on the phone.”

Francis Okello Olwa, a senior community development officer who doubles as the district spokesperson says that the entire district offices will be fumigated and closed for two days.

Health authorities in the district are planning to take samples from all the staff because they could have interacted with the one who tested positive. Currently, there are 19 COVID-19 patients under treatment at Lira regional referral hospital.     

On Sunday four health workers at the hospital tested positive for COVID-19. Dr Patrick Odongo, a senior medical officer at the hospital also succumbed to the virus.  





Source – observer.ug

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