The Canadian financial services company ECN Capital was hit with a Federal Election Commission complaint on Monday for allegedly donating to the state political committees of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, R, in violation of U.S. campaign finance laws.
The complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) is the second in recent weeks involving DeSantis, who CLC says violated federal law by transferring more than $80 million from a state political action committee to a super PAC backing his 2024 presidential campaign.
The new complaint against ECN Capital states that between October 2018 and August 2022, the company breached the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by donating to DeSantis’ last two gubernatorial campaigns and a state PAC formerly known as Friends of Ron DeSantis.
That state PAC, which is now controlled by DeSantis allies, is the same entity that funneled $82.5 million to a pro-DeSantis super PAC earlier this month, a move that is the subject of a separate FEC complaint filed against DeSantis last month.
“The recent, unprecedented rise of ‘soft money’ in federal elections undermines the crucial campaign finance laws that exist to uphold transparency, combat corruption, and safeguard the electoral process.”
The CLC’s complaint against Toronto-based ECN Capital also alleges that the corporation’s U.S.-registered subsidiaries “made contributions totaling over $122,000 in connection with federal and state elections” between 2018 and 2022, “and there is reason to believe that ECN Capital’s officers or directors may have participated in the decision-making process regarding these contributions — such that these contributions may also have violated FECA’s foreign national contribution ban.”
“FECA unequivocally prohibits foreign nationals, including foreign corporations, from making a contribution or donation of money or any other thing of value, in connection with any federal, state, or local election, and federal regulations further prohibit foreign nationals from participating in any decision-making process with regard to making a political contribution,” the complaint notes.
Saurav Ghosh, CLC’s director of federal campaign finance reform, said in a statement that “the recent, unprecedented rise of ‘ soft money’ in federal elections undermines the crucial campaign finance laws that exist to uphold transparency, combat corruption, and safeguard the electoral process.”
“As this complaint shows,” Ghosh added, “foreign money may already be influencing the 2024 presidential election, which obviously undermines voters’ ability to trust that the electoral process and their government are truly serving their interests.”
The complaint urges the FEC, which is evenly divided between three Democrats and three Republicans, to investigate ECN Capital’s donations to DeSantis’ committees and “seek appropriate sanctions for any and all violations, including civil penalties sufficient to deter future violations, injunctive relief to remedy these violations and prohibit any and all future violations, and such additional remedies as are necessary and appropriate to ensure compliance with FECA.”