How pension consultants helped Republicans win the White House
The pensions of some senators and members of Congress were used to finance Republican candidates and campaigns, including presidential nominee Donald Trump and his GOP allies.
The payments were approved by a bipartisan group of senators and representatives.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is one of them.
He has said he used the payments to support the party’s presidential campaign.
“My pension and other benefits have been used by my staff, my wife, my family and myself,” Schumer said in a statement in January.
Trump has denied that he used his own money to pay for the pensions of his staff and for his campaign.
The Senate Finance Committee is investigating the payments, but Schumer said Tuesday that “there was no collusion with the campaign” and “there’s no indication that anything like that ever occurred.”
The Associated Press reported in April that the payments were authorized by a special bipartisan committee and that the committees “authorized the payments based on a recommendation from the Senate Finance committee.”
The payments are supposed to be used for retirement and pension planning for members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, called on Senate Democrats to review the payments.
“We need to be transparent and transparent about what we’ve done and what we’re going to do to ensure that these payments are going to be repaid,” Flake said Tuesday on the Senate floor.
Flake said the payments would be reviewed by the nonpartisan Office of Government Ethics.
A Senate Finance report on the payments was issued last month.
The committee recommended that the committee review the reimbursement of a senator’s pension by a contractor hired by his office, but did not specify the contractor.
The report said that the Senate’s ethics office was unaware of any instances of the payments being used to pay off the senator’s debt, which could amount to more than $30,000.
Flake did not say Tuesday whether the Senate Ethics Committee would review the Senate Democrats report on whether the payments should be reviewed.
A spokesman for the Senate ethics office said Tuesday he did not have any information to share on the review process.
Trump, who was not named in the Senate report, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Democratic-controlled Senate Finance panel is also investigating the Trump campaign’s use of a $1.9 million payment from a company called E.T.G.S., which provides legal services to the Republican National Committee.
The company is owned by Republican donors.
The Republican National committee has said that it did not know about the payments until after the report was released in April.
Trump did not directly respond to the ethics committee’s report.
He had said earlier this month that he “never made any payments to my campaign,” and he later said that he had made “a couple of million dollars.”
But he did say that “I did make a couple of millions of dollars” in the past, and that “the only way they can make it right is if I’m going to pay it all back.”
In the wake of the AP investigation, a spokesman for Trump’s campaign said Tuesday it had provided a “full accounting” of the money.
He also said that “it would be premature” to discuss any possible ethics concerns.
“It would be wrong to speculate about whether Mr. Trump’s payments to his staff would violate the law, or that he may have made illegal payments in the future,” Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller said.
The AP reported that the company paid more than 2,000 lawyers for Trump and other Republican presidential candidates for work on the Trump-related campaign.
T.G., which bills itself as “a world leader in the technology industry,” said Tuesday in a news release that it “supports the principles of integrity, fairness and transparency in politics.”
It did not name the lawmakers whose pensions it paid.
The companies that hired the lawyers include E. L. Kent, a law firm that has represented the Trump Organization in numerous litigation matters, and Paul, R. Lueber, a partner at the firm, which has also represented the Republican candidate’s campaign.
Miller said E. F. Kent’s contract with Trump did have an obligation to the candidate to make “reasonable efforts” to disclose payments to E. E L. and Paul.
The Associated Public Interest Research Group, which is studying the payments for the AP, said Tuesday the AP’s report “should have prompted lawmakers to demand the resignation of the former President Donald Trump.”
The AP story said E T. G. S. and E. R. Kent had “been hired by the Trump Campaign to represent Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.”
Trump’s lawyer, Alan Garten, also issued a statement Tuesday saying that “no campaign employees have ever made any improper payments to Senator Flake or any other member of the United States Senate.”
Garten said that in the event that any of Trump’s employees have done so, “the Senate Ethics Commission would take appropriate action to terminate that employee