The Canadian behind a North American steel giant is accused of violating U.S. federal election laws for his supposed involvement in a $1.75-million donation to an organization that supports U.S. President Donald Trump.
The allegation, made to the Federal Election Commission, comes from Brendan Fischer from Campaign Legal Center, a U.S. non-partisan non-profit that aims to hold candidates and government officials accountable.
In the court document filed on the afternoon of May 21, CLC alleges that Barry Zekelman “violated federal law’s ban on any foreign national directly or indirectly making contributions in connection with a federal election.”
According to the document, three separate donations were made to America First Action by Wheatland Tube, a subsidiary of Zekelman Industries, where Zekelman is the CEO.
The document continues to say that foreign-owned U.S. corporations are allowed to make contributions, but only if the decisions are entirely controlled by U.S. nationals.
U.S. tariffs on Canadian steel
Those donations were made on April 5, 2018, June 4, 2018 and Oct. 17, 2018. All amounts were disclosed by America First Action.
On June 1, 2018, U.S. imposed 25 per cent tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. Zekelman, who owns steel operations on both sides of the border, had been outspoken about his support for Trump’s tariffs.
In March of 2018 when those U.S.-imposed tariffs were still only proposed, Zekelman had told CBC News he wishes they were even higher.
“Is that 25 per cent duty enough? I don’t think it is and I actually think those duties should be much higher,” he said at the time.
Shortly after the United States imposed those tariffs as a result of ongoing NAFTA negotiations, Canada imposed its own retaliatory tariffs.
Tariffs on both sides were finally lifted almost a year later. Zekelman celebrated that deal last Friday when the announcement was first made.
CBC News reached out to Wheatland Tube, America First Action and Global Affairs Canada for comment.
Zekelman told CBC News he will not be commenting on the matter until it is over.