The political fund created to push former President Donald Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud paid $60,000 to a fashion designer for former First Lady Melania Trump, according to a new report from USA Today.
The Federal Elections Commission’s (FEC) records show that the Trump-backed political action committee Save America paid Hervé Pierre Braillard $60,000. The payments were reportedly broken down into four installments paid between April 7 and June 24.
Although the payments were said to be made for “strategy consulting,” it appears unclear what the payments were actually made for.
USA Today notes that the FEC has specific regulations regarding the purchase of clothing with campaign funding.
“The Federal Election Commission does not allow candidate committees, which are formed to raise money for a specific candidate, to spend money on personal items, including clothing,” the news outlet reported. “But Save America is not a candidate committee, it’s a leadership PAC, originally designed for politicians to raise and give money to other candidates. They carry fewer restrictions and have been criticized as slush funds.”
A number of political pundits have weighed in with their take on the five-figure payout. Many also insist that the purchase raises questions.
“If you are going to a political function and trying to buy a new dress or a new tuxedo, that’s typically something that the FEC would say campaign funds should not be used for,” said Michael Beckel, who serves as the research director of Issue One, a bipartisan political reform group.
“So it really raises questions if leadership funds are being used to pay for something like a new dress or new clothing that campaign funds could not be used for legally,” he said.
Braillard, who goes by Hervé Pierre, also discussed his fashion role during a previous interview with the New York Times. His remarks have resurfaced because the role he was recently paid for may not align with what the payout was specified to be for.
“I do a bit of styling with (Melania Trump) but it’s not really my forte,” Braillard said to NY Times back in 2017. “What interests me in this relationship is not just finding pretty clothes – a lot of people can do that . It’s more about the legacy of this woman. Everybody has a different reaction to what she’s wearing.”
Ann Ravel, a former member of the Federal Election Commission, also expressed concern about the evolution of PACs and why real regulation is needed.
“For so long the whole point of leadership PACs, even when they were set up, was to kind of ingratiate yourself and help your other Congress-people or other political candidates, but that’s apparently pretty much gone by the wayside,” said Ravel.
She added, “It’s in desperate need of regulation.”