‘Straw Donor’ Sent $2.5 Million to Conservative Causes, Watchdog Complaint Alleges

Republican Senate hopefuls Matt Dolan and Tim Sheehy got the biggest boost from Ardleigh Impact Corp. The company may exist only on paper.

An apparently bogus business entity spent more than $2.5 million on various Republican campaigns in February and March, according to a new complaint filed by a watchdog group.

On May 7, the Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that a so-called straw donor, Ardleigh Impact Corp., sent a total of about $2.6 million to six conservative political action committees.

Outside of its political contributions and a business registration filed with the Delaware Department of State’s Division of Corporations, Ardleigh doesn’t have any physical or online presence. Delaware state records show it was organized in October 2023.

Ardleigh’s registered agent, The Corporation Trust Company of Wilmington, Delaware, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.

The complaint said there’s no apparent reason to believe Ardleigh is making any money through business activities. The money, it alleges, must have come from unknown sources.

According to the FEC, Ardleigh is registered at a suburban Washington address in northern Virginia. Search results show the address is a single-family home in Springfield, Virginia.

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“This straw donor scheme violates federal campaign finance laws that uphold basic electoral transparency and protect Americans’ right to know who is spending money to influence our elections,” the complaint said.

The complaint asks the FEC to investigate whether Ardleigh broke campaign finance laws and, if its found guilty, to prosecute the company and its beneficiaries.

Representatives of Campaign Legal Center did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Epoch Times.

In a blog post about the complaint, Sophia Gonsalves-Brown, a senior researcher and investigator at Campaign Legal Center, said the FEC does occasionally investigate similar arrangements and issue penalties. In October 2022, it issued a $25,000 fine to the operator of an LLC that sent $75,000 to a political action committee.

Judith Ingram, a spokeswoman for the FEC, told The Epoch Times that it cannot provide information about potential complaints filed with the agency, citing its confidentiality requirements.

House and Senate Races

According to FEC records, Ardleigh sent money to the super political action committee Conservatives For American Excellence Inc., the hybrid political action committee Congressional Leadership Fund, and the super PACs Defend Ohio Values PAC, Buckeye Leadership Fund Inc., More Jobs, Less Government, and AFC Victory Fund.

Most of Ardleigh’s money went into Ohio’s Republican Party battle to run against Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) in November. Bernie Moreno, a candidate endorsed by former President Donald Trump, won the primary in March.

According to the FEC, two super PACs, Defend Ohio Values and Buckeye Leadership, received about $1.3 million from Ardleigh. Those committees spent heavily in support of Matt Dolan, a member of the Ohio General Assembly and the son of Cleveland Guardians principal owner Larry Dolan.

Defend Ohio Values spent more than $1.9 million on the Senate race, while Buckeye Leadership Fund spent more than $7.7 million.

Ardleigh, which gave $700,000 to Defend Ohio Values, was its second largest contributor, according to FEC records.

Buckeye Leadership Fund was principally financed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a business advocacy group, and Matt Dolan’s parents, Larry and Eva Dolan. Ardleigh sent it $625,000.

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on April 17, 2024. (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) speaks during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington on April 17, 2024. (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
The Congressional Leadership Fund is a committee helping various Republican Party candidates in their efforts to win seats in the House. The GOP currently controls that chamber by a narrow majority. Ardleigh contributed $500,000.

Another group currently interested in the congressional races, Conservatives For American Excellence, got $400,000 from Ardleigh. FEC records show that the group is primarily financed by conservative megadonors Ken Griffin, Paul Singer, and Warren Stephens.

More Jobs, Less Government, a group supporting Republican hopeful Tim Sheehy’s campaign to compete against Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), got $200,000 from Ardleigh. That group is also financed chiefly by Mr. Griffin and Mr. Singer.

Through the end of March, according to the FEC, More Jobs Less Government spent about $5 million on Mr. Sheehy’s campaign. He is currently the frontrunner in Montana’s GOP primary. The vote will be held on June 4.

A final account, AFC Victory Fund, received $150,000 from Ardleigh.

AFC Victory is apparently tied to the American Federation For Children. According to its most recent tax filing, the federation is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit focused on “promoting educational choice and innovation, with a specific focus on school vouchers, scholarship tax credit programs, and educational savings accounts.”

FEC records show the federation sent money to and received money from AFC Victory in the past year.

AFC Victory, according to its FEC records, is primarily financed by conservative megadonor Jeff Yass.

Original News Source Link – Epoch Times

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