General Kurt Winstead’s campaign for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District seat announced that disqualified TN-5 candidate Morgan Ortagus joined his newly formed national security advisory committee as a co-chair.
Ortagus’ bio in the campaign statement says, “Morgan Ortagus, a U.S. Navy Reserve officer and former Spokesperson for the United States Department of State during President Trump’s Administration. She was instrumental in promoting the Abraham Accords and most recently launched Polaris National Security, a group focused on restoring international strength and respect for America.”
The Tennessee Star previously reported that Ortagus moved on from the TN-5 race after her disqualification by the Tennessee Republican Party and joined Polaris National Security.
In her earlier announcement to German-owned Politico on her new role with Polaris, Ortagus said, “My goal is to make national security issues relevant to the American voters by linking those issues to everyday concerns like the price of energy/gas and immigration/drug/border/crime crises.”
Ortagus is being styled as the founder of the organization, although it appears that Polaris National Security has been in existence for some time; Polaris National Security PAC paperwork with the Federal Election Commission was filed in January.
FEC records for Polaris National Security PAC show a single donation in the amount of $25,000 from the U.S. Immigration Fund-NY, LLC, which is a subsidiary of The U.S. Immigration Fund, an EB-5 organization.
The contribution was made on March 30.
EB-5, according to the website, “is a United States visa program, created in 1990, that enables foreign investors to obtain a U.S. visa by investing in a business that will benefit the U.S. economy and create jobs.”
The EB-5 program enables a foreign individual to invest capital in a project in order to receive a visa and entry into the United States. “After approximately 5 years from the investor’s initial entry to the United States, the investor and eligible family members are then able to apply for U.S. citizenship, if the investor chooses,” the USIF says.
“USIF provides outstanding EB-5 project opportunities, supported by 30+ years of collective real-estate development, finance and banking executive team experience,” the website says, adding that “USIF became an established EB-5 Regional Center in 2010. Since then, USIF has formed and sponsored highly successful regional centers throughout the United States that have collectively assisted over 5,000 EB-5 investors and their families.”
The U.S. Immigration Fund’s website states, “Upon satisfaction of UCIS requirements and the successful completion of the selected EB-5 project, the investor should anticipate his/her permanent Green Card and ultimately the repayment of their $800,000 EB-5 investment.”
The Polaris National Security PAC treasurer of the record is Charles Gantt of Bulldog Compliance, the same treasurer for Tennessee Conservatives PAC, which spent a significant amount of money to support Ortagus’ disqualified bid for TN-5.
Bulldog Compliance is owned by Red Curve Solutions, which handles the books for a variety of dark-money clients as well as normal PACs and Maverick PAC, which Ortagus worked for during the 2016 election cycle and supported Jeb Bush for president.
As Ortagus is now a volunteer member of Winstead’s campaign team, the Polaris National Security PAC and the campaign will have to exercise care to avoid breaking the FEC’s anti-coordination rules if the PAC wins up backing his bid.
The Star spoke with well-respected, nationally-known election law and campaign compliance attorney Chris Woodfin about the potential pitfalls that the Winstead campaign and Ortagus’ PAC will face from her involvement in both.
“The PAC that Ms. Ortagus is involved with is registered as a political action committee with a non-contribution account. These committees are often referred to as hybrid committees where the non-contribution account functions as a super PAC that can take unlimited contributions and cannot donate directly to candidates from that account, but can do unlimited independent expenditures for or against candidates,” he said.
“Given Ms. Ortagus’ position with the Winstead campaign as a key advisor on national security, the Polaris PAC will have to be very careful to avoid coordination between the campaign and the PAC, if it intends to be involved in the race for TN-5,” he continued.
“There is nothing that is illegal or against regulations at this time, but the appearance of coordination will certainly exist if the PAC uses its independent expenditure account to influence the race for Tennessee’s 5th district.”
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Aaron Gulbransen is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected] Follow Aaron on GETTR, Twitter, and Parler.
Photo “Morgan Ortagus” by U.S. Department of State. Photo “Kurt Winstead” by Kurt Winstead. Background Photo “U.S. Capitol” by Martin Falbisoner. CC BY-SA 3.0.