Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation FBI Crime News
First, Taub never registered them. PACs pool contributions from donors and then contribute that money to support or defeat a candidate for office or further a cause or policy position. Election laws mandate that they be registered with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
Second, the former Navy secretary wasn’t even part of the PAC. “Taub was using his name and likeness without the official’s permission,” said FBI Special Agent Eric Miller, who investigated the Taub case and now supervises a federal public corruption squad out of the Washington Field Office.
There was still another element to Taub’s scheme. “He told donors that 100% of their contributions were going to the cause when, in fact, he was spending that money on personal expenditures—things like excessive travel, wine, cigars, trips to Las Vegas, gambling,” Miller said.
After pleading guilty to wire fraud and willfully violating the Federal Election Campaign Act by operating fraudulent and unregistered political action committees, Taub was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison. He was also ordered to pay more than $1.1 million in restitution to the victims.
There are many reputable, well established PACs that are properly supporting causes and candidates. But Miller warns that it is easy for a fraudster to establish a group, create a website, and begin asking for contributions.
“It’s fairly easy to start reaching out to potential donors to say, ‘We are backing this candidate or this political issue—please donate,’” Miller said. “The groups can look and sound legitimate, and that’s one of the tough parts of keeping people from being victimized. The red flags aren’t always obvious.”