ABC News’ Michael Falcone reports:
An employee of real estate mogul Donald Trump denied on Monday that he did anything improper by using a private jet to travel to Iowa earlier this month to meet with political operatives and activists to discuss the possibility of a Trump presidential run.
Michael Cohen, an executive vice president at the Trump Organization, pushed back against criticism that the use of the jet, owned by Trump, violated election laws -- an allegation that has been raised in media accounts as well as in an official complaint filed recently with the Federal Election Commission.
“Numerous press articles have been circulated questioning the alleged violation of FEC rules/regs stemming from my usage of one of Mr. Trump’s aircrafts used on my trip to Iowa,” Cohen said in a statement to ABC News. “For the record, which I hope will be the last I hear of this nonsense, no FEC rules/regs have been violated as my trip was not for Mr. Trump but as the co-creator of ShouldTrumpRun.com.”
Cohen started the Web site, an effort to draft Trump for a presidential race, along with Trump supporter and friend, Stewart Rahr. Cohen said in an interview that he and Rahr paid for the trip to Iowa out of their own pockets.
On Monday a Ron Paul supporter Shawn Michael Thompson filed an official complaint with the FEC asserting that Cohen had violated regulations by using the personal jet, according to a report in the Daily Beast.
However campaign finance experts say that because Trump has not yet announced a candidacy and has not formed an exploratory committee, the complaint is unlikely to go anywhere.
Here is Cohen’s full statement to ABC News:
“Numerous press articles have been circulated questioning the alleged violation of FEC rules/regs stemming from my usage of one of Mr. Trump’s aircrafts used on my trip to Iowa. For the record, which I hope will be the last I hear of this nonsense, no FEC rules/regs have been violated as my trip was not for Mr. Trump but as the co-creator of ShouldTrumpRun.com. ShouldTrumpRun.com is an independent Web site paid for by myself and Stewart Rahr. Mr. Trump is not a candidate and has stated this more than 1,000 times, including that he will not make a decision to run until June. Lastly, usage of the aircraft was paid for by Mr. Rahr. I have vetted this issue with two highly-respected specialists in campaign finance law who both agree that no violation could be construed based upon the legitimate facts. The act of filing the inquiry by one of Ron Paul’s henchman is nothing more than proof positive of their concern that their candidate could not win the GOP nomination if Trump elects in June to enter the race. As ShouldTrumpRun.com continues to grow, and continues to cause concern to the other candidates, I suspect that more attempts to disparage Mr. Trump may be forthcoming.”