The FBI is investigating a scheme to illegally finance Sen. Susan Collins’ 2020 re-election bid, according to recently unsealed search warrant first reported by Axios.
The FBI is investigating whether Hawaii-based defense contractor, Martin Kao who also operates in Maine made illegal campaign contributions to support Collins’ reelection effort last year, the FBI said.
The warrant application alleges that Kao, the CEO of Martin’s Defense Group formally known as Navatek, created a shell company to funnel $150,000 in funding from his company to the 1820 super PAC created to support Collins. He also reimbursed family members for smaller donations.
There’s no indication that Collins or her team were aware of the scheme.
Collins helped the contractor secure an $8 million Navy contract before most of the donations took place. A press release on her website said she “strongly advocated” for the funding.
Under federal law, government contractors are prohibited from making donations to political committees. So-called “straw” donations in which a contributor uses someone else’s money are also illegal.
Annie Clark, a spokesperson for Collins told Axios in a statement, “The Collins for Senator Campaign had absolutely no knowledge of anything alleged in the warrant.”
Kao was indicted last year for allegedly bilking the federal government of millions in coronavirus relief aid for small businesses.