Updated: October 31, 11:35AM
Long before Herman Cain chief of staff Mark Block was appearing in the most mocked campaign ad of the presidential campaign so far, he and deputy chief of staff Linda Hansen started a Wisconsin corporation that the Journal Sentinel reports illegally helped the GOP presidential candidate get his campaign off the ground.
According to sources and documents obtained by the newspaper, Prosperity USA, founded by Block and Hansen, footed the bill “for tens of thousands of dollars in expenses for such items as iPads, chartered flights and travel to Iowa and Las Vegas - something that might breach federal tax and campaign law.” Daniel Bice reports:
It is not known if Cain’s election fund eventually paid back Prosperity USA, which now appears defunct. The candidate’s federal election filings make no mention of the debt, and the figures in the documents don’t match payments made by the candidate’s campaign.
In addition to picking up these expenses at least initially, Prosperity USA also paid as much as $100,000 to the Congress of Racial Equality, a conservative black organization, shortly before Cain was a featured speaker at the group’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. dinner in mid-January.
Records show that Prosperity USA’s largest asset was nearly $40,000 owed to the organization by “FOH” — Friends of Herman Cain — which the Journal Sentinel reports owed “nearly $15,000 for an ‘Atlanta invoice,’ about $17,000 for chartered flight service and $5,000 for travel and meetings in Iowa, Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas and Louisiana. The document says the Cain campaign had been billed $3,700 for iPads purchased on Jan. 4.’”
The Journal Sentinel said the records suggest that Prosperity USA “had been underwriting travel for Cain even before he announced his plans to run for president.”
“I just don’t see how they can justify this,” a national election expert told the Journal Sentinel. “It’s a total mess.”
Read the full report here.
Late update: Cain told Fox News he and his staff were not aware of the report and needed time to go though it. “I didn’t even know about it until you brought it up on the show,” Cain said.