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OP-ED: Surprise! Donald J. Trump just can’t pay what he owes!

OP-ED: Surprise! Donald J. Trump just can’t pay what he owes!

Surprise! Trump can’t pay!

Donald Trump filed 5000 pages of paper in court this past Monday just to argue that one week is not enough time to raise the staggering half of a billion dollars he owes the state of New York.

That money is due from last month’s civil fraud judgment resulting from a lawsuit filed by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

The enraged former President’s attorneys say that meeting today’s deadline is a “practical impossibility,” despite the former president’s “ongoing diligent efforts.”

Considering Donald Trump’s penchant for choosing the dishonest over honesty almost every time, does anyone still believe he’s engaged in “diligent efforts?”

For how many years has he called himself a billionaire and now that he has to show all of the money he’s made, to pay back the amounts he collected through persistent business fraud, he’s crying poverty.

Perhaps the august former president turned judgment debtor will announce another fundraiser.

Maybe he’ll continue to get funds from Save America, the leadership PAC he founded and controls, you know, the one the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee used to fleece MAGA nation for $100 million to fight the election he planned to steal with an insurrection

Save America PAC paid out over $50 Million in contributor dollars to pay Trump’s 2023 legal fees resulting from his growing list of civil and criminal legal cases.

Or, maybe he’ll seek reimbursement from the Make America Great Again Pac or other “Make America Great” political action organizations.  According to OpenSecrets, a nonprofit campaign funds tracker, Trump has raided these PACs to the tune of $60 Million or more since 2016.

I’m not a campaign finance laws expert, but aren’t campaign finance funds supposed to fund campaigns?

Someone might ask the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to step in.

But they won’t.

The FEC Commissioner recently said that her agency’s board has decided that campaign finance law just doesn’t apply to Trump after declining a whopping 28 recommendations from its General Counsel to pursue campaign finance violations out of 58 complaints, all on 3-3 partisan line votes.

Here’s just one example.

In 2018, after Trump campaign hush money payments to porn star, Stormy Daniels became public knowledge, Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, pleaded guilty to two campaign finance crimes and was sentenced to three years in prison.

At the same time, American Media, Inc. (AMI) acknowledged its own campaign finance violation in making an illegal corporate campaign donation to Trump (money paid to Daniels). AMI entered into a non-prosecution deal with the Department of Justice.

Cohen went to jail.

Do you wonder why the company wasn’t prosecuted?

This was Trump’s Justice Department, not Joe Biden’s.

Need I say more?

At the time, as usual, Trump avoided prosecution for campaign finance crimes.

These are the same acts Manhattan’s DA Alan Bragg is fighting to put on trial next month.

As a general rule, campaign contributor funds may not be tapped for the personal use of a candidate or officeholder. The FEC defines ‘personal use” as expenses unrelated to a candidate’s or officeholder’s duties.

In other words, Trump could not finance a real estate venture with the money, pay for his grandchild’s education, or purchase a Brazilian Butt Lift for Melania. However, FEC advisory opinions are far less clear about legal expenses, especially if they are connected to a campaign or officeholder’s relevant actions. The FEC handles these on a ‘case by case basis.’

It’s hard to understand how hush money payments to a porn star would qualify, but, hey, it’s Trump!

The FEC, time and again, has allowed, shall we say, unusual legal expense exceptions.

Legal fees for Trump’s deceitful efforts to overturn the 2020 election or defending his retention of classified documents after leaving office might qualify. Trump’s legal team will probably claim that hush money to Daniels qualifies.

After all, the money was used to hide elements of Trump’s disgusting personal life and prevent those elements from damaging his 2016 campaign. Might these be “campaign-relevant” activities? Who knows?   

The good news is that these exceptions don’t seem to apply to the New York business fraud case or the E. Jean Carroll sexual assault and defamation cases.

As stated previously, the two combined cases require payment of over ½ billion dollars. I am almost certain that these expenses will be considered “personal,” and unrelated to either Trump’s time in office or his pursuit of that office. Too bad for Dangerous Donald, right?

Well . . . maybe. Trump has a “leadership PAC” (Save America), an independent 3rd party that may use its funds for the candidate’s personal use so long as those funds are irrespective of the candidate’s run for office. There is no limit on how much of these funds can be spent on a candidate’s personal expenses.

With pre-judgment interest, New York State’s judgment against the former president started at $453.5 Million last month.

Interest is growing at a rate of $112,000 per day.

The E. Jean Carroll verdicts, with interest, are now approximately $92 Million and growing.

Dangerous, Indecent Donald (D.I.D) will soon be knocking on your door, hat in hand, begging for money.

He’ll tell a racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, or anti-Semitic joke.

He’ll invent a disrespectful name for the president of the United States.

He’ll repeat the lie that America is in decline or scream about a border problem he instructed Speaker Johnson to ignore.

He’ll offer to build a wall, set up a photo session with Putin or the strongman of your choice, and provide more tax breaks for the rich.

But taxes help fund infrastructure fixes, the military, and other important government programs.

Donor dollars to D.I.D. help only you-know-who.

I recently wrote an op-ed asking donors this question: Would you rather spend donated funds on initiatives that save women’s lives, or on appeal bonds for a man judged guilty of fraud, defamation, and sexual battery?

Donor Beware!

Tell your MAGA relatives to use their dollars and their vote wisely in 2024, and give them both to President Joe Biden.

Editor’s note: This is an opinion column that solely reflects the opinions of the author.

Mark M. Bello
Mark M. Bello is an attorney and author of the Zachary Blake Legal Thriller Series and children’s social justice/safety picture books. He also hosts the popular bi-weekly podcast, Justice Counts (https://www.spreaker.com/show/justice-counts_1). Mark’s books may be found at all online booksellers and on his website, at https://www.markmbello.com. Sign up for Mark M. Bello's Social Justice Newsletter.

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