A U.S. election watchdog on Wednesday fined the company that owns the National Enquirer tabloid $ 187,500 for silencing the story of a former Playboy model who claimed to have had an affair with now-former President Donald Trump.
Miami World / AP
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) fined A360 Media, formerly American Media, for paying model Karen McDougal $ 150,000 in August 2016, saying the payment was made to prevent her from going public. its history before the presidential elections.
The FEC said that the publisher’s “payment to Karen McDougal to purchase the rights to a life story, combined with her decision not to publish the article in consultation with an agent of Donald J. Trump and for the purpose of influencing the elections, constituted a corporate contribution in kind prohibited by law ”.
Campaign finance laws in the United States prohibit corporations from cooperating with a campaign to influence an election.
The owner company has not commented on the matter. An emailed statement from a representative for David Pecker, who resigned as the publisher’s chief executive officer in 2020, said that he was not a party to the deal and had not paid any fines.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan agreed in 2018 not to prosecute American Media in exchange for its cooperation in a campaign finance investigation. That investigation led to a three-year prison term for Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who urged the publisher to obtain the rights to McDougal’s story and promised to reimburse them for payment.
Cohen was in jail for nearly a year until he was granted house arrest on the grounds of the coronavirus. Since then, he has spoken out frequently against Trump, tweeting Wednesday that he was willing to cooperate with federal prosecutors in any further lawsuits against Trump or his associates.
The National Enquirer, known for its celebrity-focused content, hid stories related to Trump and other celebrities for years, buying the rights to publish stories but then not publishing.
National Enquirer and A360 Media are owned by hedge fund Chatham Asset Management. Chatham has not commented on the matter.