The FBI is investigating whether a U.S. defense contractor illegally funneled money into Senator Susan Collins’ 2020 re-election campaign, Fox News has learned.
FBI staff searched electronic devices belonging to Martin Kao, former CEO of Hawaii defense contractor Navatek, for evidence that he orchestrated an effort to funnel suspected illegal contributions to aid Collins, a Republican of Maine, in his candidacy for re-election for 2020, according to a recent report. request for a search warrant.
Authorities also seized cell phones belonging to Kao and his colleague Clifford Chen, the document said.
Federal agents requested the warrant, citing evidence that Kao reimbursed friends and family for approximately $ 45,000 in donations they made directly to Collins’ campaign, in violation of federal law prohibiting donations made on behalf of another person.
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Investigators also allege that Kao illegally directed $ 150,000 in corporate funds to a super PAC supporting Collins’ campaign.
The warrant application does not accuse Collins of any wrongdoing.
“The Collins campaign for the senator had absolutely no knowledge of anything alleged in the mandate,” Collins director of communications Annie Clark told Fox News.
In 2019, the US Navy Office of Naval Research awarded Navatek – now known as the Martin Defense Group – an $ 8 million contract to develop safer ship hulls and Collins advocated for this funding, according to a press release from his office at the time.
“Our company is committed to the State of Maine, and with the support of Senator Collins, we have been able to partner with the University of Maine and the state’s boat building ecosystem to meet new challenges and navy needs, ”Kao said in the statement. .
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Months after the contract was awarded, an entity called the Society of Young Women Scientists and Engineers LLC donated $ 150,000 to the pro-Collins super PAC called 1820 PAC, according to reports. Kao and his wife are accused of creating the fraudulent LLC, which Collins backed, according to the warrant request.
According to the FBI, bank statements show that Kao reimbursed several members of his family for their donations to the Collins for Senator campaign committee.
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Kao was accused last year of fraudulently obtaining millions in coronavirus relief funds.
Chad Pergram of Fox News contributed to this report.
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