The editor of the National Enquirer was fined $ 187,000 for making payments to a former Playboy model who claimed she made a bed with Donald Trump years before he was elected in 2016.
Three years after the tabloid’s previous owner, American Media, admitted to federal prosecutors that it made payments to support the Trump campaign, the federal electoral commission said the publisher « knowingly and willfully » violated campaign finance laws, tied to the $ 150,000 he paid Karen McDougal to buy her story and then not publish it.
The fine was imposed on May 17, 2021, according to Common Cause, a public advocacy group that Gathered information on the penalties and released information on Tuesday about the deal between the FEC and A360 Media. A360 Media is the successor company of American Media.
In the letter to the group, the FEC stated that « David J. Pecker and American Media Inc. have knowingly and willfully violated » campaign fundraising laws.
It rejected claims by the American media that it was protected by the rights of the First Amendment to trace a story where Pecker and Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard got locked with the US Department of Justice to admit wrongdoing to avoid criminal prosecution.
The federal electoral commission also informed Howard’s attorney on June 1 that « there were not enough votes to suggest that your client may have violated the [federal election] law and commission regulations » and the case closed.
The FEC has also failed to recommend staff members punish former President Trump for paying $ 130,000 that Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen admitted to making pornstar Stormy Daniels to cover up similar allegations in the run-up to the election.
Cohen, who spent a year in jail for the payment, says he did it at the behest of Trump, who denied he was involved or had an affair with Daniels.
During the 2016 campaign AMI and Pecker and Howard paid McDougal $ 150,000 to purchase the rights to their claim that she had a friendly affair with Trump in 2006. The Enquirer later admitted that he never intended to publish her story.
Pecker, who stepped down as CEO of American Media in August 2020 but is still an « Executive Advisor » to the successor to A360Media, was a close friend of Trump. The Enquirer was one of only a handful of publications to endorse him as president in 2016. « Trump orchestrated this whole thing, and so far he’s gone, » said Paul Ryan, Common Cause’s vice president of policy and litigation opposite CNBC.
« Everyone who did their dirty work here, Cohen and AMI, paid fines and was in jail. »
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