Rupert Murdoch safe from campaign finance claims: experts
Rupert Murdoch, who shares confidential information about Joe Biden’s campaign ads with Jared Kushner, is unlikely to face campaign finance charges, experts tell Law&Crime.
Murdoch’s disclosure of Biden’s private ad information and his debate strategy with former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law was one of the revelations in Dominion Voting Systems’ legal writing in their $1.6 billion lawsuit.
“During Trump’s campaign, Rupert Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner provided confidential Fox information about Biden’s ads and debate strategy,” he said meager specified. “But on election night, Rupert wouldn’t help with the call in Arizona. As Rupert put it, “My friend Jared Kushner called me and said, ‘This is awful,’ and I could hear Trump’s voice screaming in the background.” […] But Rupert refused to budge: “And I said, ‘Well, the numbers are the numbers.'”
This passage could help Dominion argue that Fox and his senior executives knew Trump’s vote-fraud allegations were false but pushed electoral lies to maintain their relationship with the former president.
As a result, experts say, it could even compound Fox’s potential civil exposure in this court case.
Some campaign finance experts suggested the allegations could mean criminal exposure for Murdoch. Campaign Legal Center director Saurav Ghosh, a former law enforcement attorney with the Federal Elections Commission, told independent journalist Judd Legum that the ads could constitute “illegal campaign input.”
Law professor Rick Hasen told Legum that Murdoch couldn’t claim a media exemption under the law because he didn’t share the ads to collect news.
This legal analysis went viral on Twitter, rattling speculation that Murdoch’s mounting legal woes might not all be civilized.
Three former federal prosecutors with decades of experience thought the suggestion highly unlikely.
CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers, who has spent more than 13 years in New York’s Southern District, conceded that it may even be true that the allegations could describe a campaign finance violation – but only in a “hyperlegalistic” sense.
“I think a hyperlegalistic argument needs to be made that it might be criminal, but the truth is, I can’t imagine anyone would ever sue or even prosecute it,” said CNN legal analyst Jennifer Rodgers, a longtime former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of New York. “The angle of the corporate donation is suspect and the value is uncertain and certainly small.”
Two other former federal prosecutors, Mitchell Epner and Renato Mariotti, concurred.
Epner noted that prosecutions for campaign finance are rare.
“Most of these are for straw donors or things that are just very clear violations of ‘You gave X amount of money that is higher than the amount you were allowed to give’,” is Epner, who has now specialized in media law and is a Partner at Rottenberg Lipman Rich PC, Law&Crime said in a phone interview.
“When you start talking about benefits in kind [donations]who are rarely prosecuted,” he added.
Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti offered the same analysis that a campaign finance violation is unlikely to end up on a criminal list.
“We don’t live in a world where every potential violation of the law can be easily proven and prosecuted,” Mariotti told Law&Crime.
For his part, Fox has insisted Dominion only play in front of the press.
“Dominion’s lawsuit has always been more about what will make headlines than what will stand up to legal and factual scrutiny. ‘ the network said.
Under Dominion’s “extreme” and “unsupported” view of the defamation law, Fox says, journalists are barred from “basic reporting.” The network described the lawsuit as an attempt to “publicly defame FOX for covering and commenting on allegations by a sitting President of the United States.”
The precedent of Michael Cohen
A notable exception to this general trend was the case of Trump’s former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations.
In his plea deal, Cohen admitted to paying two women, adult film actress Stormy Daniels and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, to silence their claims that they were having affairs with then-candidate Trump. The parent company of the National Enquirer American Media, Inc. (AMI), later admitted to a so-called “catch-and-kill” payment to McDougal to prevent her story from being published ahead of the 2016 election.
AMI later signed a non-prosecution agreement.
Experts see no harbinger of Murdoch’s downfall in this precedent.
“I know some people have pointed out that Michael Cohen was technically prosecuted, but that was part of an agreed-upon plea package,” Epner noted. “And there were a lot of people wondering if the US Attorney’s Office would have been brave enough to press those charges if Cohen was fighting them. And for Cohen, he was lucky enough to make a pleading that also landed Trump in hot water for not adding it to the verdict.
One of the reasons why cases of donations in kind are so rare and difficult is the proof of the “value”.
“You have to be able to quantify how much they’re worth, and there’s no ready market to quantify how much getting early access to a Biden commercial is worth — including whether or not.” , in addition to getting him from Murdoch, they had other ways they could get that,” Epner said. “So that doesn’t seem like a likely avenue for prosecution to me.”
Mariotti also added that this aspect of the case would give Fox a ready defense.
“Fox’s argument would likely be that the information was already in the public domain and/or had no value,” he said.
For Rodgers, the value of the Biden ads also separates the hypothetical Murdoch case from the AMI case.
“It’s not comparable to the AMI case cited, where AMI basically stood in the campaign’s place to pay the 150,000,” Rodgers said. “So that’s both a benefit to the campaign and a tangible, high value for what was provided.”
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https://lawandcrime.com/2020-election/fox-boss-rupert-murdoch-is-probably-safe-from-campaign-finance-ripples-of-dominion-revelations-on-biden-ads-experts-say/ Rupert Murdoch safe from campaign finance claims: experts