The FBI has launched an investigation into alleged illegal contributions to Sen. Susan Collins’s (R-Maine) 2020 reelection bid, according to a recently unsealed search warrant application.
According to the warrant, first reported by Axios, the FBI is probing whether Martin Kao, the former CEO for Hawaii-based contractor Martin Defense Group, illegally funneled $150,000 funds to a super PAC backing Collins using a shell company.
Kao and his wife are accused of creating a fraudulent limited liability company called the Society of Young Women Scientists and Engineers LLC—which was registered on Nov. 26, 2019, in Hawaii—and using it to shield the original source of funding.
A month after it was registered, the $150,000 donation was made to the 1820 PAC that has spent money in support of Collins. The 1820 PAC is linked to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Under federal campaign finance law, it is illegal for government contractors to make donations to political committees, and donors are prohibited from donating in the name of others. So-called straw donor violations occur when someone makes a campaign contribution in the name of another person to conceal the true source of the funds.