WASHINGTON (AP)–A private group filed a complaint Tuesday urging federal election officials to investigate whether House Speaker Dennis Hastert’s campaign fund illegally accepted contributions from foreigners.
The complaint from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Government relied on an article published in the September issue of Vanity Fair to argue the Federal Election Commission should pursue the matter.
The group–whose executive director–Melanie Sloan–is a former federal prosecutor and counsel to House Democrats–suggested that the Illinois Republican’s campaign fund could have received hundreds of unitemized contributions of $200 or less from foreigners in 2000 and 2001 because Hastert raised so much money in small amounts.
Names and addresses are not required for such donations.
"The sheer number of small contributions should have raised a red flag," Sloan said in a statement.
Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean spoke dismissively of the complaint.
"This is based on a ridiculous story that makes for great summertime reading," he said. "Next thing you know–they’ll file a complaint against the speaker based on the Jennifer Aniston-Brad Pitt break-up story."
The account in Vanity Fair said Sibel Edmonds–an FBI contract translator who was later fired–had reported hearing Turkish wiretap targets boast that they had a covert relationship with Hastert. It said the targets reportedly discussed giving Hastert tens of thousands of dollars in secret paymen’s in exchange for political favors and information.
FEC spokesman George Smaragdis said the agency had no comment.