Former President Donald Trump has not been having the best of luck lately. It seems as though he is caught in one scandal after another, each one hurting his 2024 campaign more than the last.
The latest controversy is an alleged bribery scheme by a real estate developer to get two criminals pardoned by Trump.
The Scheme Unfolds
U.S. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva and Representative Katie Porter allege that real estate developer Mike Ingram secured pardons for Dwight and Steve Hammond, who were convicted in 2012 for setting public fires on public land they leased and illegally killing deer on that land.
Ingram, coincidentally, was already familiar with the Natural Resource Committee, as he was the subject of its first criminal referral for another alleged bribery case. Grijalva and Porter have accused Ingram of making a $10,000 donation to America First Action, Inc. Super PAC in an attempt to get the Hammonds pardoned.
The two Democrats called for the Interior Secretary’s department to release all files pertaining to the pardons of Dwight and Steve. The two had been sentenced to five years in prison with time served in 2015.
“We’re requesting documents to help us get to the bottom of [the Ingram case],” Porter said. “I have zero tolerance for corruption.”
Various right-wing protests sprung up as a result of their case, including a 40-day armed occupation of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.
Taking the Bait
Ingram wrote a letter to a Trump Interior Department official with attached articles arguing on the Hammond’s behalf. A Republican lawmaker tweeted on July 1, 2018, that Trump was giving the pardon serious consideration.
Just one day later, Ingram sent in his donation to the Super PAC, and the following week, the Hammonds were pardoned.
The Natural Resources Committee tweeted this month that the two Democrats are investigating the case and are requesting documents be released.
Exposing the Plot
In their own statement, the two Democrats laid out their evidence and made the case against Ingram and Trump.
“Mr. Ingram made only one other $10,000 donation during the 2017-2018 nonpresidential election cycle. That donation was the subject of the committee’s criminal referral regarding the Villages at Vigneto development [in Arizona]. In that case, Ingram and 12 other individuals, many of whom maintained personal or professional relationships with Ingram, donated nearly a quarter of a million dollars to the Trump Victory Fund and the Republican National Committee on the same day or within just a few days that a major federal action regarding Vigneto was made in Ingram’s favor.”
They continued, “The parallels between the Vigneto case and the Hammonds’ pardons raise significant concerns about another potential case of bribery under the Trump administration and warrant further investigation.”
Porter also said that she and Grijalva uncovered the scheme while investigating a different case. They were looking into an alleged $240,000 “quid pro quo” deal between the Trump administration and a real estate developer.