On the day Donald Trump’s second impeachment trial began in the Senate, the campaign for embattled Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL)—reportedly under federal investigation since the summer for alleged sex crimes with an underage teen—made by far its largest ever political contribution: $100,000 to a mysterious nonprofit created to defend the then-president.
While that donation may not sound out of the ordinary, it stands out for a number of reasons. For one, the size of the donation is curious: It’s double the amount of Gaetz’s second-largest donation ever, and it’s $22,000 more than the campaign’s combined gifts to close ally Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL). For another, the nonprofit appears to have done nothing now for more than a year. And even odder is the Gaetz campaign’s own explanation—which experts say raises questions of legality.
The group, “Right Direction America,” is a nonprofit launched in December 2019 by Trump ally and former Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) as a 501(c)4—a so-called “dark money” social welfare organization which doesn’t have to disclose its donors but cannot participate primarily in political activity. Christie billed the group as a vehicle to drum up public support for Trump during his first impeachment trial in the Senate.