PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon elections officials have fined the Democratic Party of Oregon $15,000 for wrongly reporting the source of a hefty campaign donation last year.
The Secretary of State’s Office said it also plans to monitor the party’s financial disclosures to ensure campaign finance laws are being followed. The office initially proposed fining the party $35,000 after a three-month investigation but lowered the amount in a settlement agreement, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.
If the party doesn’t comply with the settlement’s oversight requirements, it could face a fine up to $50,000.
The investigation did not find clear evidence that the Democratic Party of Oregon knew the true donor when they reported the contribution last year, elections officials said. The probe determined that the party could have taken more care with its compliance.
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The state took a closer look at the $500,000 contribution in question after The Oregonian/OregonLive reported it didn’t come from cryptocurrency startup Prime Trust, as reported by the party in campaign finance filings. The donation actually came from Nishad Singh, a former executive at the disgraced cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
The party corrected its report after the Oregonian/OregonLive asked about it repeatedly.
Brad Martin, the party’s executive director, said in an email that the case “boiled down to an individual lying about a donation and the DPO making the correct information available as soon as it learned about the donor’s lie.”
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On Thursday, the Oregon Elections Division said it would refer an investigation into Singh’s actions to the state Department of Justice for review and possible criminal prosecution for making a contribution in a false name. Making a campaign contribution under a false name is a felony in Oregon. Oregon has no campaign finance limits for state political races and causes, and Singh could have given the $500,000 to the state party in his own name.
In February, Singh pleaded guilty to charges including conspiracy to make unlawful political contributions and to defraud the Federal Election Commission. Prosecutors alleged Singh contributed to candidates and political committees and reported those contributions to the FEC in the names of people who didn’t actually pay for them.
He is the third executive from FTX, the collapsed cryptocurrency giant, to make a deal with prosecutors building a case against FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried. Prosecutors allege Bankman-Fried cheated investors and looted customer deposits on FTX to make lavish real estate purchases, donate money to politicians and make risky trades at his cryptocurrency hedge fund trading firm.
He denies the charges.