A controversial Canadian senator donated to Donald Trump’s reelection effort, violating U.S. campaign finance law in the process, amid an election where accusations of foreign influence and cash are flying back and forth.
In early May, Senator Lynn Beyak made a $300 contribution to the Republican National Committee, per a publicly available Federal Electoral Commission filing. Beyak listed her profession as “retired” and her mailing address as a post office box on Davis Point Road in Dryden, New York.
But the address and zip code do not point to any actual location in the state. There is a town of Dryden in New York, but no Lynn Beyak resides there.
There is, however, a Davis Point Road near Dryden, Ontario. A phonebook listing that matches the street address from the GOP donation receipt corresponds to Lynn Beyak, a sitting member of the Canadian Senate. The postal code from Beyak’s Elections Canada donation records also corresponds to the address on Davis Point Road.
Beyak’s office confirmed to VICE News that it was, in fact, the senator who made the donation.
“In response to your enquiry, a donation was made in error and is being returned in its entirety, simply because it was erroneous,” a staffer said in an email.
Her office did not indicate what error was made, why she misstated her address, or when the “error” was reported to the Republicans.
American campaign finance law is abundantly clear—that foreign nationals who do not hold U.S. citizenship or permanent resident status are ineligible to contribute to political candidates or campaigns. Nothing in Beyak’s history or financial disclosures revealed she has U.S. citizenship or owns property south of the border.
It does happen. There are numerous examples of foreign nationals contributing to U.S. political campaigns, although those donations are often refunded for being ineligible.
The Republican National Committee is required to report all returned donations, and has not yet reported returning Beyak’s donation, five months after it was made.
Beyak has been a controversial figure for years, since she was appointed to the senate by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2013.
Beyak has suggested LGBTQ people could avoid discrimination and violence by living a life of “quiet dignity” and proposed that imams ought to be certified if they want to preach Islam in Canada.
She was booted from the Conservative Senate caucus after she made comments calling for a program to offer cash to Indigenous peoples to give up their protected status and land. She also whitewashed the abuses suffered by Indigenous children in state-run residential schools.
Beyak has continued to sit as an independent since 2017, but was suspended from the upper chamber last year and ordered to undergo anti-racism training by her colleagues. When she failed to complete it, she was suspended a second time.
Her suspension was vacated when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued—or suspended—Parliament in August. Beyak has not spoken or voted in the upper chamber since her return in September.
The senator also appears to have cut ties with her former party. Last summer, she contributed $1,000 to Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party, a far-right political organization that has emulated President Donald Trump’s hard-line anti-immigration message.
Senators in Canada are appointed until their mandatory retirement at age 75 and it is notoriously hard to remove a sitting senator prior to their end date. Beyak will need to retire in 2024.
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Update: The story has been updated to note that individuals with permanent resident status in the U.S. can also contribute to campaigns.