Former President Donald Trump is violating a federal financial disclosure law, and the Federal Election Commission is telling him to comply immediately — or face financial penalties, according to a letter obtained by Raw Story.
Trump had previously applied for, and received, two extensions on the filing deadline as he runs for president ahead of the 2024 election. Then, in a letter dated March 15, Trump lawyer Derek H. Ross asked for an additional 30-day extension for Trump, citing "complexities of his financial holdings."
But the FEC denied his most recent request, saying he had reached the maximum of 90 days allowed under law.
"As no further extension of time is available, Mr. Trump’s deadline for filing his personal financial disclosure report remains March 15, 2023," acting FEC general counsel Lisa Stevenson wrote back to Ross on March 16. "Under section 104(d) of the Ethics in Government Act of 1978, as amended, '[a]ny individual who files a report required to be filed under this title more than 30 days after [the due date, as extended] shall … pay a filing fee of $200.'"
Trump's financial disclosure, required of all presidential candidates, would reveal information about his income, assets, debts and royalties.
Trump routinely filed personal financial disclosures on time as a presidential candidate and as president. Such personal financial disclosure documents materially differ from Trump's tax returns — the subject of significant legal and political drama regarding Trump — in that they generally contain less information.
"This looks like a continuation of a pattern of disregard for both the informal norms and formal rules around government ethics and the broader expectations we have for political leaders and elected officials," said Dylan Hedtler-Gaudette, government affairs manager at the D.C.-based nonprofit watchdog organization Project on Government Oversight.
The problem, said Hedtler Gaudette, is that the penalty of $200 is useless as a deterrent.
"As is true in other contexts, like the STOCK Act, when consequences are virtually nonexistent and punishment is nominal at best, the deterrent effect of these kinds of rules is minimal," he said. "A law without teeth to enforce it is an exercise in futility in most cases, even if we should be able to trust elected officials and political candidates to abide by them out of respect and propriety."
Paying a small federal fine is probably the least of Trump's current legal worries, at present.
Officials in Georgia are also investigating Trump for his role in meddling with the results of the 2020 election. Meanwhile in Washington, D.C., special counsel Jack Smith is investigating whether Trump illegally retained sensitive government documents after leaving the White House — and then stifled government efforts to take them back.
Trump has maintained he's innocent.