Wheatland Tube, parent firm, CEO agree to $975K penalty for $1.7M donation to pro-Trump PAC
The Federal Election Commission has levied a $975,000 civil penalty against Wheatland Tube, its parent company, and its owner, for alleged election law violations involving a $1,750,000 in contributions to a pro-Trump super PAC in 2018.
According to FEC documents, Zekelman Industries CEO Barry Zekelman had discussions with Wheatland Tube President Mickey McNamara about making donations to America First Action.
Wheatland Tube, which has facilities in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, and Warren, Ohio, is a subsidiary of Zeckelman Industries.
America First Action described itself on a now-archived website as a “primary super PAC dedicated to electing federal candidates who support the agenda of the Trump-Pence administration.”
A complaint filed with the FEC by the campaign watchdog group, Campaign Legal Center, alleged that as a Canadian citizen, Barry Zekelman was not legally permitted to make the donation under a U.S. law prohibiting donations from foreign nationals to federal, state, or local elections.
Zekelman’s attorneys argued that the donations came from Wheatland Tube with the approval of its president Mickey McNamara, who is a U.S. citizen.
Since Barry Zekelman discussed the donations with an executive of the company that made the donation, the FEC said it found reason to believe that Zekelman Industries, Inc., Wheatland Tube, LLC, and Barry Zekelman violated the foreign national contribution ban.
The FEC stated in a voluntary conciliation agreement that the violation was not believed to be willful.
Under that agreement, a $975,000 civil penalty must be paid.
In addition, America First Action must either refund Wheatland’s $1,750,000 in donations or turn that money over to the U.S. Treasury.
In 2018, Barry Zekelman notified 2,300 employees at his fifteen plants that they would each receive a $1,000 bonus annually when President Trump's planned steel trade policy went into effect.