Politics

REPORT: FBI Investigating Contributions To Susan Collins Campaign

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Michael Ginsberg General Assignment Reporter
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The FBI is reportedly probing a series of donations to a Super PAC associated with Republican Maine Sen. Susan Collins’ 2020 reelection campaign.

Martin Kao, a Hawaii-based defense contractor, allegedly gave $150,000 in straw donations to the pro-Collins 1820 PAC, Axios reported Tuesday. Kao, was formerly CEO of Navatek LLC before he was indicted in September 2020 for allegedly defrauding the Paycheck Protection Program out of $12.8 million.

Kao allegedly used straw donors, including an LLC he and his wife created, to get around campaign finance regulations that prohibit government contractors from donating to re-election committees, Axios reported. He also reportedly reimbursed family members who donated to the Collins campaign. (RELATED: Democratic Iowa Senate Candidate Accused Of Breaking Campaign Finance Laws)

Navatek, LLC received an $8 million grant from the US Navy’s Office of Naval Research in 2019 so that it could develop safer ship hulls. Collins spearheaded the grant. “As a senior member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I strongly advocated for the funding that made this research possible and am so proud of the work Navatek and other Maine industries do to support our Navy and our nation’s defense,” she said at the time.

An FBI search warrant alleged that a hard drive seized by the FBI in connection with Kao’s 2020 indictment contained information about the straw donations.

“The Collins for Senator Campaign had absolutely no knowledge of anything alleged in the warrant,” a spokeswoman for Collins told Axios.

Collins defeated Democratic state Sen. Sara Gideon to win re-election in November 2020. Despite not leading in a single poll, Collins won by more than eight points.