The FBI is investigating whether Hawaiian defense contractor Martin Kao illegally contributed $150,000 to a super PAC that supported Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) amid her 2020 re-election campaign, Axios reports.
The donations were made from June to September 2019, when Kao was CEO of the company Navatek, which has since been renamed Martin Defense Group. Before most of the donations were made, Collins helped Navatek secure an $8 million Navy contract.
A newly unsealed search warrant application shows the FBI believes Kao and his wife started a fake LLC called the Society for Young Women Scientists and Engineers in order to funnel $150,000 to the pro-Collins 1820 PAC, Axios reports. Investigators allege that bank records show Kao also reimbursed relatives who contributed to Collins' campaign.
Under federal law, federal contractors are barred from donating to political campaigns, and it is also illegal to use another person's money to make a political contribution. In 2020, Kao was indicted for allegedly swindling the government out of coronavirus relief funds.
Annie Clark, a spokesperson for Collins, told Axios in an email that the Collins for Senator Campaign "had absolutely no knowledge of anything alleged in the warrant."