The FBI has raided the headquarters of a controversial Maryland Republican organization with ties to former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, a local television station reported.
Federal agents executed a search warrant Thursday on Strategic Campaign Group, a Republican consulting and fundraising firm in Annapolis, according to WBAL-TV. WBAL reported that the firm is notable for its use of technology in political campaigns.
TheBlaze reported that the FBI confirmed a search had been carried out, but wouldn’t confirm any further details.
The state Republican Party said the raid “concerns fundraising questions in a previous political race.”
While the Manafort link was the obvious connection for the media to make — especially given Manafort’s alleged ties to pro-Russian groups in Ukraine — the state party’s statement indicated that the FBI’s investigation is going in a different direction.
And, indeed, there is a far more plausible explanation. In 2014, former GOP Virginia gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli sued Strategic Campaign Group because a fundraising campaign by what he called a “scam PAC” under SCG’s aegis had siphoned off campaign dollars from his 2013 run at the Old Dominion governor’s mansion.
The Washington Post reported in 2014 that Conservative Strikeforce, the alleged “scam PAC,” only donated $10,000 of the “approximately $2.2 million” it raised to Cuccinelli’s campaign, which he eventually lost to Clinton functionary Terry McAuliffe.
The group also didn’t follow through on spending independent of the Cuccinelli, campaign such as voter turnout efforts and canvassing. It did, however, spend $2,200 on a website for the candidate.
In 2015, Conservative Strikeforce agreed to pay Cuccinelli’s campaign $85,000 to settle a lawsuit over the dispute, according to The Washington Post.
WBAL also noted that SCG was “questioned by the Federal Election Commission concerning money raised by a political action committee linked to the firm that has been accused of using candidates’ names to raise money without their permission.”
Given the Manafort link, this is likely to catch a lot of media attention. However, SCG’s dealings in the McAuliffe-Cuccinelli race are too serious to ignore.
Either way, this is a case that bears watching.