Philadelphia-Area Political Consultant Charged in Superseding Indictment With Obstructing Investigation of Federal Election Commission
WASHINGTON – A federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania returned a superseding indictment today adding charges in a pending criminal case against a Philadelphia-area political consultant, announced Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Louis D. Lappen for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
The original indictmenz, returned on Oct. 24, 2017, charged Kenneth Smukler, 57, of Villanova, Pennsylvania, with causing unlawful campaign contributions, causing the filing of false reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and causing false statements to the Federal Election Commission in connection with a 2012 congressional campaign. The superseding indictment charges Smukler with these same offenses, as well as making conduit contributions to a federal campaign committee and obstructing an FEC investigation in connection with the 2014 congressional campaign of a different candidate.
According to the indictment, Smukler made and caused to be made excess and conduit contributions and engaged in a falsification and obstruction scheme involving a candidate for the Democratic Party’s nomination for Member of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2014. According to the indictment, the excess contributions came from associates of Smukler and were funneled through two of Smukler’s consulting companies. The conduit contributions were routed through another political consultant and the candidate.
As alleged in the indictment, in or about April 2014, Smukler became aware that the campaign was running out of funds that it could spend on primary election expenses. According to the indictment, Smukler nevertheless directed the campaign to continue paying for goods and services associated with the primary election. According to the indictment, in or about May 2014, one of Smukler’s companies made a $78,750 payment to the campaign that was used to pay for primary election expenses. Smukler falsely told the campaign that this money came from a segregated media account, when in fact the payment was funded by an associate of Smukler’s and therefore constituted an illegal campaign contribution.
As alleged in the indictment, after the campaign lost the primary election, the campaign did not have sufficient funds to repay the contributions that the campaign had received for the general election. As alleged in the indictment, in order to conceal this shortfall, Smukler funneled illegal contributions totaling $150,000 from an associate to the campaign through two of Smukler’s consulting companies. As alleged in the indictment, Smukler falsely told the campaign that these payments were refunds of money that had been escrowed in Smukler’s companies for general election expenses, when, in fact, the money had come not from escrow accounts but from Smukler’s associate, and the money could not have been escrowed campaign funds because Smukler’s companies had already spent a significant portion of the funds they had received from the campaign.
According to the indictment, Smukler caused the campaign to falsely characterize the payments from his companies as refunds in FEC reports and in a letter to the FEC, which led the FEC to dismiss a pending complaint against the campaign.
In addition, the indictment alleges that Smukler made an unlawful conduit contribution to the campaign in excess of $2,000 through another political consultant. And, according to the indictment, in or about June 2015, Smukler made another unlawful conduit contribution to the campaign, this time in excess of $10,000, through the candidate.
An indictment is not a finding of guilt. An indictment is merely an accusation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.
The case was investigated by the FBI and Trial Attorney Jonathan Kravis of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Eric Gibson of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania are prosecuting the case.