Creator of a scam PAC that targeted Trump supporters has been charged with defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program

MAGA hats
“Make America Great Again” set of hats await purchase outside the BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo, Miss., Friday, Nov. 1, 2019, before a Keep America Great Rally.

  • Prosecutors have charged the creator of a pro-Trump scam PAC with wire fraud.
  • Authorities say James Kyle Bell defrauded the Paycheck Protection Program of over $1 million.
  • The websites for Bell’s Keep America Great PAC were seized and taken down by the FBI in 2020.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Federal prosecutors have charged the creator of a political action committee that scammed donors by purporting to be supporting President Donald Trump’s reelection with wire fraud for defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program.

In a charging document filed in the US District Court for the District of Columba and first reported by the Huffington Post, prosecutors say James Kyle Bell, a Nevada man, created the Keep America Great PAC and registered it with the Federal Election Commission to defraud donors by mimicking the Trump campaign, down to using the exact language in Facebook and Google ads and promising non-existent matching funds.

Read more: Washington moves of the week: Hoosiers in DC landed big jobs this week, a sign of the sprawling networks of Mike Pence and Pete Buttigieg

The Daily Beast reported in October 2020 that the FBI had seized and taken down the “keepamericagreatagain.com” website and domain, which authorities say improperly lifted copyrighted material and source code from the Trump campaign itself, including its logo, and another PAC.

The Beast said that even as scam PACs go, Keep America Great was “brazen” in its efforts to swindle people who thought they were giving money to the Trump campaign or a PAC, with even Google and Facebook cracking down on their digital ads. In all, prosecutors found, Keep America Great brought in over $246,000 from donors over the course of 2020.

Prosecutors further say that Bell then applied for business loans through the Paycheck Protection Program on behalf of five separate companies, an effort that involved submitting falsified information and even “fictitious tax forms” to defraud the program.

“For example, Bell claimed that three of the companies each had an annual payroll over $2 million with more than 200 employees, when in fact those companies combined had at most six employees with far less in payroll expenses.

Bell ultimately ended up receiving a total of $1,139,836 in PPP loans for four of his companies, which prosecutors then say he diverted to put towards personal expenses and padding Keep America Great’s coffers, where he “co-mingled the PPP loan proceeds with donations to KAGC,” the charging document said.

On top of Keep America Great, prosecutors say Bell also created a less lucrative pro-Biden scam PAC, the Best Days Lie Ahead Committee, which ended up bringing around $100,000 from online donors.

In addition to the charges, authorities have also ordered Bell to forfeit over $524,000 in funds from his bank accounts and an over $862,000 money judgement.

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Former President Trump is urging Republicans to donate directly to him instead of the GOP

trump impeached

Former President Donald Trump is trying to siphon donations away from the Republican National Committee and into his political action committee fund.

Trump, who recently flirted with starting his own political party, dubbed The Patriot Party, sent a letter warning donors to avoid supporting RINOs, or Republicans In Name Only.

“No more money for RINOS. They do nothing but hurt the Republican Party and our great voting base – they will never lead us to Greatness,” his tweet-length statement said. “Send your donation to Save America PAC at DonaldJTrump.com. We will bring it all back stronger than ever before!”

Fine print on the site clarifies that the Save America joint fundraising committee donates 90% of its funds to Save America PAC, with 10% going to MAGA PAC. Neither PAC is directly affiliated with the Republican party.

Trump’s Save America PAC has raised more than $31 million, according to OpenSecrets.com.

Become a founding member
Trump’s PAC website encourages visitors to “become a founding member of the Save America team.”

Trump’s relationship with GOP standard-bearers has been rocky since he left office in January.

In February, he called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell a “dour, sullen, unsmiling political hack” after McConnell upbraided Trump for stoking the January 6 Capitol insurrection.

Trump told reporters last month that he would support Republican challengers to any GOP members of Congress who voted to impeach him. “Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First,” he said, according to Bloomberg.

This week he specifically attacked “disloyal” Sen. Lisa Murkowski, threatening to travel to Alaska to campaign against her.

This latest fundraising drive comes on the heels of Trump sending out cease and desist letters to several top Republican campaign committees, warning them against using his image for fundraising without his approval. To appease Trump, the RNC opted to move part of its spring retreat to Mar-a-Lago, Insider’s Grace Panetta reported.

Trump was expected to announce his bid for the 2024 presidential nomination during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held in February but demurred. Instead, he once more baselessly claimed he had won the 2020 election, teasing that 2024 might offer him a third election win.

“But who knows,” he said, “I may even decide to beat them for a third time.”

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Microsoft will pause political giving through 2022 to lawmakers who voted against certifying the presidential election

Microsoft.
Microsoft also changed the name of its PAC to the Microsoft Corporation Stakeholders Voluntary PAC.

Microsoft will suspend contributions from its PAC through the 2022 election cycle to federal legislators who denied certification of the presidential election, the company said in a blog post Friday.

Following the Jan. 6 insurrection in which supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol as Congress was voting to certify the election, the tech giant halted all political contributions, pending review. Now, the company has determined it will only suspend contributions to federal legislators who opposed certifying President Joe Biden’s win, as well as state officials and organizations that supported overturning the vote.

“We believe these steps are appropriate given the importance of these issues for the stability and future of American democracy,” Fred Humphries, vice president of US government affairs, wrote in an email to the company’s PAC community.

Read more: EXCLUSIVE: Microsoft employees slam the company’s PAC over its donations to election objectors, leaked internal discussions show

Microsoft also changed the name of its PAC to the Microsoft Corporation Stakeholders Voluntary PAC in order to indicate stakeholder contributions are voluntary. The company’s PAC came under fire last month by employees who criticized it for donating to Republicans who supported unfounded claims of election fraud. Insider reported that President Brad Smith told employees the PAC allowed the company to gain access to legislators who could advocate for corporate interests. 

As part of its renamed PAC, Microsoft said it would create a new initiative to promote public transparency, campaign finance reform, and voting rights, and would work with other companies in its efforts to “strengthen democracy.” Companies, such as Google, Amazon, Marriott, and many others, similarly decided to halt contributions to Republicans who opposed the 2020 election results, following the deadly Capitol riots

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