Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential campaign was pressed by the Federal Election Commission last week on why it accepted 23 "contributions from possible foreign nationals" -- which would be illegal -- after the issue was first flagged by the Washington Examiner.
Naguib Sawiris, an Egyptian billionaire and politico who was photographed with North Korea's late leader Kim Jong Il, gave $78,000 to the Romney Victory Committee, a fund designed for wealthy donors, on Election Day, listing an address in Egypt and failing to provide further personal information. There is no indication in public profiles that Sawiris holds dual citizenship.
"The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) prohibits any foreign national from contributing, donating or spending funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States, either directly or indirectly. It is also unlawful to help foreign nationals violate that ban or to solicit, receive or accept contributions or donations from them. Persons who knowingly and willfully engage in these activities may be subject to fines and/or imprisonment," according to the FEC.
In the letter Thursday, the FEC gave the Romney campaign until Oct. 10 to clarify or correct the issues or face "an audit or enforcement action."
An official for Romney Victory Inc. told the Center for Public Integrity that it intends to respond to the FEC's letter with documentation indicating Sawiris made the donation legally.