Ontario Sen. Lynn Beyak — who has been suspended twice from the Senate over her comments about the Indigenous residential school system — donated to the Republican National Committee in May despite a U.S. election law forbidding campaign contributions by foreign nationals.
According to Federal Elections Commission records, Beyak donated $300 to U.S. President Donald Trump’s party while reporting a home in Dryden, N.Y. as her home residence and supplying a postal code from that area.
Beyak lives in Dryden, Ont., in the province’s northwest.
Under the U.S. Federal Election Campaign Act and commission regulations, foreigners are prohibited from making any contributions in connection with any federal, state or local elections in the United States.
The law also prohibits any contribution or donation to any committee or organization of any national, state, district or local political party.
Those who knowingly and willfully engage in these activities may face an FEC enforcement action, criminal prosecution, or both, according to the commission.
While barred from making donations, foreign nationals can volunteer for a U.S. candidate or political committee as long as they’re not being compensated by anyone.
In making her contribution, Beyak listed her occupation as “retired,” although, at the time, she was still a member of the Red Chamber.
VICE News first reported the campaign contribution.
In a statement to that news outlet, Beyak’s office confirmed that the senator did make a contribution but said the money was sent in “error.”
VICE reports that after it made inquiries about the donation, Beyak’s office said the money would be paid back; a staffer said that the money was “being returned in its entirety, simply because it was erroneous.”
Beyak’s office did not immediately respond to CBC’s request for comment and clarification on whether Beyak, a former real estate agent, holds dual Canada-U.S. citizenship.
In February 2020, Beyak was suspended by her colleagues for the remainder of the parliamentary session after she failed to complete the anti-racism training she was directed to undergo the last time she was temporarily kicked out of the upper house for posting racist letters to her taxpayer-funded website.
The letters in question were sent to Beyak after CBC News reported on comments she made about the residential school system in March 2017.
Beyak praised the “well-intentioned” instructors at these schools and chastised the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for not “focusing on the good” coming out of these institutions.
Beyak’s suspension ended when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament.
Beyak is again collecting her full salary — $157,600 a year — and has access to Senate resources.
The Senate ethics committee report recommending a vote on reinstating her to the chamber — after she completed her anti-racism education and issued a formal statement of apology — died on the order paper over the summer.
Beyak, who was appointed by former prime minister Stephen Harper, was kicked out of the Conservative caucus in January 2018.
She subsequently backed People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier in the last election campaign.