In violation of the law, Rupert Murdoch admitted to providing confidential information to the Trump campaign
End Citizens United (ECU) today filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Fox News Corporation and Donald Trump’s campaign committee.
According to his sworn testimony in the Dominion lawsuit case, Rupert Murdoch, Chair of Fox Corporation, admitted to providing confidential information about then-candidate Biden’s ads, along with debate strategy, obtained by Fox during the course of business, to Trump’s re-election campaign.
Fox Corporation’s blatant action constitutes a corporate contribution, which–because Fox was not acting with a legitimate press function–is a violation of federal law.
“This was not only unethical behavior by Rupert Murdoch and Fox, it is also a clear violation of the law designed to tip the scales of a presidential election,” said End Citizens United President Tiffany Muller. “Sharing non-public, confidential information about a presidential candidate’s messaging strategy directly with the rival campaign is in no way a legitimate press function. The price tag for such information cannot be quantified. It very well could have tilted the results of the election. The FEC should immediately open an investigation into this egregious and flagrant abuse of the law, fine them the maximum amount permitted, and take appropriate remedial action.”
In his sworn testimony, Rupert Murdoch admitted that he provided confidential information about then-candidate Joe Biden’s ad and strategy for a debate moderated by Fox News to Jared Kushner, senior advisor to the Trump Campaign.
Fox News providing the Trump Campaign with non-public, confidential information was a blatant violation of the prohibition on corporate contributions.
While the press are exempted from FEC rules relating to in-kind contributions when they are acting as a press outlet, Fox was not acting with a “legitimate press function.”
Here, Fox News provided non-public Biden campaign ads to Kushner in order to benefit the Trump Campaign. This is clear campaign activity that is not within Fox News’ legitimate press functions.
The Trump campaign’s 2020 filings with the Commission did not disclose any in-kind contribution of this information to the campaign.
Federal law prohibits any corporation from making a contribution in connection with any federal election, and likewise bars any candidate, candidate’s political committee, or any person from knowingly accepting or receiving corporate contributions.
A contribution includes any “direct or indirect . . . gift of money, or any services, or anything of value,” including an in-kind service provided without compensation, “made for the purpose of influencing a federal election.” Material non-public information concerning campaign strategy, messaging, or advertising is a thing of value.