American political consulting firm raided by FBI

15 June 2017 2 min. read

American political consultancy Strategic Campaign Group have seen the FBI seize donor information, following legal action from former clients regarding its association with scam fundraising groups.

A US professional services firm formerly hired by the Republicans to advise on campaign and strategy management have seen their offices stormed by the FBI. Strategic Campaign Group (SCG), saw their base in Annapolis, Maryland raided by Federal Agents, after the issue of a search warrant was issued to seize computer files and documents, pertaining to allegedly unlawful and fraudulent fundraising practices.

SCG previously had a large range of established connections with the Republican Party, however relations became strained after it emerged Conservative Strike Force, a PAC associated with SCG, gave the group over $302,482 in 2014, compared to just $62,000 donated to actual electoral campaigns. This led to accusations that consultant Scott B. MacKenzie, who still runs Conservative Strike Force, channelled money to consultants rather than candidates. McKenzie is also Treasurer and Chair of a number of other PACs including Patriots for Trump.

Political Action Committees (PACs) have long been a concern and a struggle for the Federal Election Commission, which solely benefit those running the campaign they represent. PACs, are run by single consultants who differ from non-profits in the fact they are not governed by the board of directors. Federal Election Law states candidates are not allowed to use campaign donations for personal purposes. Nevertheless, traditional political action committees alongside their PAC brethren face no challenges on how they practice their own methods of distribution of funds.

US political consulting firm raided by FBI

General Ken Cuccinelli, the GOP’s 2014 candidate for Virginia state governor, went on to sue both the political consultancy and the Conservative Strike Force for self-dealing fundraisers, or 'scam PACs'. In his case they allegedly raised $2,2 million in favour of his gubernatorial campaign, yet Cuccinelli only a received $10,000 of the funds collected.

While he went on to lose the subsequent election, the odds ended up in Cuccinelli’s favour as the Conservative Strike Force eventually settled for $85,000, while Strategic Campaign Group agreed to turn over donor information to Federal Agents, culminating in the FBI’s raid of their office.

Following the settlement, Cuccinelli’s stated a desire to “clean up” political practices of this kind to aid politics in the future, “It was my hope when we brought our lawsuit to cast light on the dark practices of scam PACs. I think we did that successfully.”