Tunstall, 34, has been linked to a number of political action committees – including just this spring – that used Trump’s name to raise funds. Campaign funding disclosures indicated that these PACs contributed little or none of that money to Trump’s campaign or cause. And Tunstall has reportedly used the proceeds to portray a lavish lifestyle for himself or online as such.
So-called scam PACs have spread in the political fundraising scene over the past ten years. A POLITICO investigation in 2019 identified more than a dozen pro-Trump PACs with no actual ties to the president, including a committee run by Tunstall. The phenomenon has become serious enough to trigger an FBI warning earlier this year urging potential donors to keep an eye out for such systems.
The operator of another pro-Trump scam PAC admitted in May it cheated on Trump supporters and pleaded guilty to wire fraud related to the operation. The FEC has meanwhile weighed options to combat fraudulent PACs and received recommendations from a working group on the issue this spring.
Prosecutors for the program sneaked into Wednesday’s indictment leading up to the 2016 election when Tunstall, Reyes and Davies formed two PACs claiming to support candidates on the right and left, respectively.
The indictment does not name either candidate, but makes it clear that the defendants’ Liberty Action Group PAC claimed support for then-candidate Trump and their Progressive Priorities PAC claimed support for its Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Both PACs made “false and misleading representations” in robocalls and written and radio advertisements soliciting donations in an attempt to portray the committees as affiliated with their respective candidates or to work to provide direct or indirect financial support to them said prosecutors. As a reward for larger donations, they offered giveaways such as stickers and signed photos.
Tunstall, Reyes and Davies “instead used the funds they earned under the program to pay additional fraudulent claims, to enrich themselves directly, and to support their independent, independent business ventures,” the indictment said to the PACs allegedly reported little or no business expenses, while money was transferred to the defendants or incorrectly reported as advertising expenses.
The defendants also allegedly used the names of others – including a friend of Davies’, his then-girlfriend, a Davies employee and an accountant who did compliance work for the PACs – to admit their involvement in the fraudulent PACs in the campaign finance records hide. sometimes without the knowledge of others and occasionally falsifying the names of others in FEC filings or other related documents.
Eventually, prosecutors allege that a joint third-party vendor was used for the two committees to launder or be controlled by more than $ 350,000 in illegal revenue in Tunstall and Reyes bank accounts.
Attempts to reach Tunstall and Reyes have been unsuccessful. There was no readily available contact information for Davies.
Prosecutors say Tunstall and Reyes overpayed the seller, an unnamed company that distributed robocalls, and then arranged for the company to move the excess funds into bank accounts of three in a series of nearly two dozen transactions between June 2016 and April 2017 Company transfers: Matte Media Creations and Supreme Dream Media, which Tunstall controlled, and Modern Media Group, which Reyes controlled. In other cases, the defendants or their affiliates received payments from at least one of the committees themselves.
According to a Justice Department press release, Tunstall first appeared in the US District Court for the Central District of California on Tuesday. Reyes and Davies will appear in U.S. District Courts for the Northern District of California and the Western District of Texas for the first time on Wednesday.
Tunstall and Reyes face up to 125 years in prison if convicted on all counts, while Davies faces up to 65 years in prison if convicted on all counts.