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Democratic group alleges Donald Trump is breaking campaign finance law

The group, American Bridge, cites Trump’s statements to argue that he is running for the presidency while skirting federal campaign finance laws that require that those who raise or spend more than $5,000 to register as a candidate. Candidates also are barred from coordinating their activities with super PACs.

Among the statements highlighted by the Democrat group: Trump’s comments last month to the Conservative Political Action Conference that appeared to allude to a third presidential bid. “We did it twice and we’ll do it again … we’re going to do it a third time,” Trump told attendees, the group said in its filings.

And last fall, American Bridge noted, Trump said this when asked about his 2024 plans: “I know what I’m going to do, but we’re not supposed to be talking about it yet from the standpoint of campaign finance laws.”

It’s not clear that the FEC, which often deadlocks along partisan lines, will take any action in this case. The agency moves at a slow pace, often rendering judgment years after a complaint is first lodged.

Trump’s network of political groups started the year with $122 million in cash reserves — an unheard of sum for an ex-President. And American Bridge noted that his leadership PAC, Save America, has spent heavily — pumping as much as $100,000 a week into Facebook advertising.

In a statement, Trump spokesman Taylor Budowich said the complaint had “zero merit.”

“Our country is spiraling into disaster because of the Democrats’ failures, and instead of reversing course to provided needed relief to American families, they are busy filing frivolous complaints that have zero merit,” Budowich said in an email.

“The Democrat Party has become a dumpster fire that’s void of solutions and substance – all they have is cheap gimmicks.”

Adav Noti, vice president and legal director of the Campaign Legal Center watchdog group, said the FEC should investigate.

“The standard for whether someone has become a candidate under federal law is whether they have decided to run,” Noti, a former top lawyer with the FEC, told CNN on Monday. “The evidence that the FEC looks at is their actions and what they say.”

Given Trump’s statements and his fundraising activity, “there is a strong argument that, under the law, Trump has triggered candidacy for 2024.”

But, “even in the best of circumstances,” Noti added, “the FEC generally doesn’t enforce the law at all, and when it does, it is always years after the fact.”

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