Two California men and a Texas man face federal charges of operating fake political action committees to scam donors of $3.5 million in the 2016 election, authorities said.
Matthew Nelson Tunstall, 34, of Los Angeles, Robert Reyes, Jr., 38, of Hollister, California, and Kyle George Davies, 29, of Austin face charges of wire fraud and making false statements to the Federal Election Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice said in a news release.
Tunstall and Reyes also are accused of laundering $350,000 of the illegal proceeds.
The three men operated fake political action committees named Liberty Action Group PAC and Progressive Priorities PAC “under the guise that the PACs were affiliated with or meaningfully supporting specified candidates for public office,” the release said.
The indictment does not name specific politicians or parties. Instead, it refers to “Candidate 1” and “Candidate 2,” and “Political Party A” and “Political Party B,” in the 2016 presidential election.
- The transcript of one robocall included, “I’m [Candidate 1]. [Candidate 2] will release violent criminals from jail and put innocent Americans at risk.”
- Another said, “Have [Candidate 2]’s back against [Candidate 1] by investing generously to help elect [Candidate 2] as the first female president in U.S. history.”
Instead of going to candidates, money donated to the PACs went into the pockets of the three men or to pay for more fraudulent advertising aimed at unwitting donors, the release said.
In fact, only $19 of the donations went to political causes, the indictment said.
If convicted, Tunstall and Reyes face up to 125 years in prison, while Davies faces up to 65 years in prison, prosecutors said.