The agreement with the former transportation secretary states that at the time the loan was taken out he was “experiencing significant financial difficulties” and that the money was being used for home repairs.
The legal review for LaHood, a former Illinois Republican member of Congress who served in President Barack Obama’s cabinet from 2009 to 2013, appears to have emerged from a Justice Department investigation into the Lebanese-Nigerian billionaire who is the ultimate source of the Loan was. Gilbert Chagoury.
The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that Chagoury had passed a resolution in 2019 similar to an investigation into his involvement in foreign donations for political campaigns in the United States. Chagoury admitted paying $ 180,000 to individuals in the United States to fund donations to political candidates.
While Chagoury has been the focus of media attention and the GOP attacks for donating between $ 1 million and $ 5 million to the Clinton Foundation and being in touch with Hillary Clinton’s inner circle at the State Department, all appear to be $ 180,000 prosecutors to claim Chagoury was involved in US presidential campaigns have gone to Republican candidates.
The campaigns and candidates are not named in the documents published on Tuesday. However, a POLITICO analysis shows that the individual donations matched gifts of US $ 100,000 to a presidential campaign fund from Mitt Romney in 2012, US $ 10,000 for former MP Lee Terry (R-Neb.) ‘S 2014 campaign, US $ 30,000 for the 2014 campaign by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.); and $ 30,200 for the 2016 campaign by Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.).
The documents do not claim that the campaigns or candidates knew that the donations came from Chagoury, who, as a non-resident foreigner, is prohibited from donating to US campaigns.
Chagoury, who lives in Paris, paid a $ 1.8 million fine and entered a deferred law enforcement arrangement that kept criminal charges in check. Although he accepted the facts in the donation agreement, he did not admit to breaking the law. The deal appears to have been structured with Chagoury keeping certain legal defenses open.
Two Chagoury aides also signed deferred law enforcement deals with US prosecutors. It’s unclear why the cases were kept under wraps for so long, but one of the aide’s agreements wasn’t signed until earlier this month.
Published internal State Department reports and cables received from WikiLeaks have tied Chagoury to the Hezbollah group in Lebanon – which is part of the government there but regards the US as a terrorist organization. Chagoury has denied any wrongdoing or link to terrorism, but at times he appears to have ended up on a US no-fly list.
In 2010 the Department of Homeland Security was established sent Chagoury a written apology about an incident earlier this year in which he and his family were delayed trying to travel to Paris on a private jet from Teterboro, New Jersey.
In the fall of 2016, Chagoury sued the US government. He accused various government agencies of violating his privacy and due process rights by disclosing derogatory and false information about him to the media. In July 2017, both sides agreed to dismiss the lawsuit. The US government stated that Chagoury was never on a specific sanctions list and that certain types of disclosure of personal information violated US laws and government guidelines.
A press release from the Department of Justice on Wednesday suggests that Chagoury provided valuable assistance to the US government but does not elaborate on it.
“Federal attorneys have entered into the deferred prosecution agreement, taking into account, among other things, Chagoury’s unique support for the US government, payment of a fine, acceptance of responsibility for his actions by Chagoury and his residence outside the US,” said it in the statement.
Chagoury’s lawyers did not respond to requests for comment. LaHood did not respond to emails looking for a comment.
The dealings with both men contain provisions that could enable them to face criminal prosecution if they or their agents publicly deny any of the facts that they agreed to in the legal settlements.