Providence, Rhode Island - A former candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives pleaded guilty Thursday to wire fraud and willfully violating the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by operating fraudulent and unregistered political action committees.
Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and Assistant Director in Charge Nancy McNamara of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.
Harold Russell Taub, 30, of Cranston, Rhode Island, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and one count of willfully violating FECA before U.S. District Judge William E. Smith for the District of Rhode Island. Sentencing is set for July 12, 2019.
According to the Information, in late 2016, Taub began soliciting donations to an organization he called Keeping America in Republican Control (KAIRC), which he represented to be a legitimate political committee, organized in accordance with federal law to support Republican candidates at the state and federal level. In March 2018, Taub began soliciting donations to another purported political action committee, Keeping Ohio in Republican Control (KOIRC), with the stated purpose of supporting Republican candidates in Ohio. Taub collected a total of approximately $1,630,439 in contributions to KAIRC and KOIRC, but never registered either entity with the FEC or made required reports to the FEC, as required by FECA.
Taub admitted as part of the plea that he held KAIRC and KOIRC out as legitimate, federally-registered political actions committees on his website, in social media posts, and in email solicitations that reached hundreds of donors. Taub represented that all of KAIRC and KOIRC’s staff were volunteers and that “100 percent” of donations were used to support candidates. However, of the more than $1.6 million in contributions to KAIRC and KOIRC, Taub used more than $1 million for purely personal expenses. In furtherance of his fraudulent scheme, Taub also repeatedly used the name of a former Ambassador and high-level military officer without the knowledge or permission of the person, even after being instructed not to do so.
The FBI investigated the case. Trial Attorney Peter M. Nothstein of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section is prosecuting the case.