Government Contractors Charged With Making Illegal Donations To Pro-Susan Collins Super PAC

Three former executives at a major defense contractor were charged Thursday with making illegal campaign contributions to a Super PAC that worked to re-elect Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins.

Martin Kao, Lawrence “Kahele” Lum Kee, and Clifford Chen used company credit cards and a shell company to contribute over $200,000 to Political Committee A, the indictment alleges. Federal Election Commission records reveal Company A to be 1820 PAC, a Super PAC that spent nearly $11.8 million in independent expenditures in the 2020 election cycle in favor of Collins. All three men are former employees of Martin Defense Group, formerly Navatek LLC, a Honolulu-based defense contractor that received an $8 million grant in 2019 from the Office of Naval Research with Collins’ support.

Using straw donors, Kao, Lum Kee and Chen contributed more than $55,600 to 1820 PAC during the 2020 election cycle, well above the federal contributions limit of $5,600 per donor, according to the indictment. To get around campaign finance rules, they allegedly reimbursed family members to make the donations for them, before reimbursing themselves with checks from a Navatek LLC bank account. Federal law also prohibits all government contractors from making any election contributions.

The three men later set up a shell corporation to funnel money to 1820 PAC, according to the indictment. (RELATED: REPORT: FBI Investigating Contributions To Susan Collins Campaign)

“Looks like we can setup a new LLC pretty vaguely,” Lum Kee allegedly emailed Kao and Chen. “Let me know who you want to list as the registered agent, manager, and the address to use and I can get started when you are read.”

The Society of Young Women Scientists and Engineers (SYWSE) was registered on Nov. 26, 2019 with Kao listed as the company’s agent. Jennifer Lam, reportedly Kao’s wife, was listed as the company’s manager.

Kao allegedly met with a representative from 1820 PAC in December 2019. Shortly after, Navatek contributed $150,000 to SYWSE, and the corporation gave the same amount to 1820 PAC, according to the indictment.

If convicted, the three men face up to 25 years in prison and $1.25 million fines, according to a Department of Justice press release.

“As is clear in the indictment, there are no allegations of wrongdoing by the Collins for Senator Campaign. As stated previously, the campaign had absolutely no knowledge of any of the allegations against Mr. Kao or his associates until a search warrant was reported in the press,” a spokeswoman for Collins told the Daily Caller

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