Canadian steel tycoon Barry Zekelman and his companies have been fined the equivalent of C$1.2 million ($975,000) for donating $2.2 million ($1.75 million ) to an organization created to support former US President Donald Trump. agenda.
The U.S. Federal Election Commission (FEC) found that in 2018 Windsor, Ontario-born Zekelman violated the Federal Election Campaign Act, which prohibits any foreign national from directly or indirectly contributing to any federal election. , state or local.
Investigating a complaint from the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), a nonpartisan Democratic group in the United States, the FEC found that the chief executive of Zekelman Industries had provided “substantial assistance” through one of his companies donating to the America First political group. Stock.
The CTC said the fine is the third highest ever imposed by the FEC.
“We commend the FEC for doing its job. The imposition of this severe sanction helps protect voters’ voices from being drowned out by foreign corporations and other vested interests,” said Adav Noti, Vice President and the CLC’s legal director, in a press release. .
America First Action describes itself as “the leading super PAC dedicated to electing federal candidates who support the Trump-Pence administration’s agenda,” the FEC notes in its factual and legal analysis of the case.
The donations were made on April 5, 2018, June 4, 2018 and October 17, 2018.
On June 1, 2018, the United States, under Trump, imposed 25% tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
Zekelman, who has steel operations on both sides of the border, was a strong supporter of tariffs.
According to the New York Times, Zekelman and his wife were invited to a private dinner with Trump after the donations.
The settlement agreement, released on Friday, says the FEC did not find the violation was “knowing or willful.”
Zekelman and his companies argued that the contributions were made in good faith and on the understanding that they were authorized.
Contributions were made through Pennsylvania-based Wheatland Tube, a pipe and tube subsidiary of Zekelman Industries. They were authorized after the president of the company, who is American, consulted another officer of the company in the United States.
Zekelman acknowledged that he also participated in discussions at Zekelman Industries and Wheatland Tube about contributions, the FEC said.
As part of the settlement, companies must request a refund or request that the Super PAC remit the funds to the US Treasury.
CBC News has reached out to Zekelman for comment, through a representative of Zekelman Industries, but had not yet received a response at the time of publication.