According to a recently unsealed search warrant, the FBI
is looking into possible illegal contributions to Sen. Susan Collins
' (R-Maine) 2020 reelection campaign from a defense contractor.
The warrant, filed on April
7 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks access to a hard drive as part of its investigation into the Hawaii-based contractor Navatek
, which rebranded itself as Martin Defense Group
Investigators believe the company's former CEO, Martin Kao, illegally funneled money
from Navatek through a shell company to a political action committee supporting Collins' campaign, and that Kao illegally reimbursed family members for their donations to her campaign, according to the warrant.
Collins announced in August 2019 that Navatek had received an $8 million Defense Department
contract, saying she had “strongly advocated” for the funding and was “so proud” of the company’s work
According to the warrant, Kao's wife, Tiffany Lam, formed an LLC called The Society of Young Women Scientist and Engineers three months later to funnel $150,000 from Navatek to the pro-Collins 1820 PAC.
Federal contractors are not permitted to make political campaign contributions
, and individuals are not permitted to make contributions in the name of someone else.
Stardia's messages seeking comment from Kao and Lam were not returned immediately.
The mother of Navatek's then-chief financial officer, Clifford Chen, told law enforcement officials that her son gave her money and asked her to donate to Collins' campaign, which she did, according to the warrant.
There is no evidence that Collins was aware of the alleged misconduct; a spokeswoman for Collins stated that the campaign had "absolutely no knowledge of anything alleged in the warrant."
The allegedly fraudulent contributions represent only a small portion of the total amount of money raised for Collins' reelection campaign, with the senator's campaign committee alone raising approximately $30 million between 2015 and 2020.
According to a Martin Defense Group representative, Kao and others involved in the case are "no longer employees" of the firm, which is "fully cooperating with the government investigation."