Tunstall, 34, was linked to several political action committees, including this spring, that used Trump's name to raise funds. Campaign finance disclosures revealed that these PACs did not contribute any money to Trump's campaign. Tunstall reportedly used the profits to finance a luxurious lifestyle or online.
Over the past decade, so-called scam PACs has proliferated on political fundraising. POLITICO's 2019 investigation found more than 12 pro-Trump and pro-Trump committees that had no ties to President Trump. Tunstall was also identified. This phenomenon has become so serious that the FBI issued a warning to potential donors earlier in the year, urging them to watch out for such schemes.
In May, another pro-Trump scam PAC operator admitted that he had swindled Trump supporters. He pleaded guilty in connection to the operation to wire fraud. FEC has been looking at options to combat scam PACs, and received recommendations from a group that dealt with the matter this spring.
Prosecutors indicted Wednesday Tunstall, Reyes, and Davies in a scheme that took place before the 2016 election. They formed two PACs to support candidates from the right and left.
Although the indictment doesn't name either candidate, it makes clear that defendants' Liberty Action Group PAC claimed support for then-candidate Trump while their Progressive Priorities PAC claimed support for his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Prosecutors said both PACs made "false representations" in robocalls, written and radio ads, asking for donations. They sought to portray the committees, they claimed, as being associated with or working to support financially -- directly or indirectly -- their respective candidates. As rewards for large donations, they offered campaign swag such as stickers and signed photos.
Tunstall, Reyes, and Davies "instead used funds they obtained through the scheme to buy additional fraudulent solicitations of money, to enrich themselves directly and to support their independent unrelated business ventures," according the indictment. The indictment charges that the PACs reported very few or no operating expenses while money was transferred or falsely reported to them as advertising expenses.
They also allegedly used other names, including Davies' then-girlfriend and Davies' associate, to hide their involvement in the scam PACs in campaign finances records. Sometimes they did not know of the others and sometimes forging names on FEC filings and related documents.
Prosecutors also allege that the vendor who was a common third party vendor to both committees was used by Tunstall and Reyes to illegally launder $350,000 in proceeds to bank accounts controlled or owned by them.
Reyes and Tunstall were not reached. Davies' contact information was not readily available.
Prosecutors claim that Tunstall and Reyes overpaid the vendor (an unnamed company) and then arranged for the company's wire of the excess funds in a series close to two dozen transactions, between June 2016 to April 2017, to accounts belonging to three companies: Matte Media Creations, Supreme Dream Media, and Modern Media Group. Reyes controlled Modern Media Group. Other times, the defendants and the companies that were linked to them received payments at least from one of the committees.
According to a Justice Department press release, Tunstall made his first appearance at the U.S. District Court in the Central District of California on Tuesday. Reyes and Davies will appear in their first appearances Wednesday at the U.S. District Courts of the Northern District of California, and the Western District of Texas.
Tunstall and Reyes could be sentenced to up to 125 years imprisonment if found guilty on all charges, while Davies could face up to 65 years imprisonment if convicted of all counts.