Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Combination of images of then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during the second presidential debate in St. Louis, Missouri in 2016. Photo:Paul J. Richards /AFP via Getty Images

The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that a jury has indicted three men for allegedly running a political action committee scam to defraud people of $3.5 million in 2016 and 2017.

Of note: While the indictment doesn't mention the presidential candidates' names, the PACs are listed as "Liberty Action Group" and "Progressive Priorities." These were identified as being pro-Donald Trump and pro-Hillary Clinton PACs, respectively, in a 2016 BuzzFeed News article reporting on the committees' links.

  • One of the trio charged, Matthew Nelson Tunstall, 34, of Los Angeles, has been accused previously of running other pro-Trump scam PACs in 2019 and earlier this year, per CNN and Politico, though these allegations do not relate to the current indictment.

Details: Prosecutors allege that Tunstall; Robert Reyes, 38, of Hollister, California; and Kyle George Davies, 29, of Austin, Texas, "solicited contributions" to the committees "under the guise that the PACs were affiliated with or meaningfully supporting specified candidates for public office," per a DOJ statement.

  • The DOJ has accused the defendants of obtaining money "from unwitting donors based on false and misleading representations and used those funds to enrich themselves" and to allegedly pay for additional fraudulent donation schemes.
  • "Tunstall and Reyes are also alleged to have laundered more than $350,000 in illegal proceeds from the scheme through a third-party vendor to conceal the use of those funds for their own benefit," the DOJ notes.
  • The indictment alleges that out of the total money raised by the PACs, "only approximately $19 [was] distributed to any candidate's authorized campaign committee or to any political cause, while a total of more than $1.5 million was used to benefit" of the committee operators.

For the record: Tunstall and Reyes are both charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and to make a false statement to the FEC, multiple counts of wire fraud, and multiple counts of money laundering.

  • Davies is charged with conspiracy commit wire and to make a false statement to the FEC, and multiple counts of wire fraud.
  • If convicted of all counts, Tunstall and Reyes both face a total penalty of 125 years in prison. Davies faces up to 65 years in prison.

The big picture: The FBI warned in April that "scam PACs are on the rise."

  • In May, a man behind pro-Trump and pro-Joe Biden scam PACs, James Kyle Bell, pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
  • The FEC is looking into how it can thwart scam PACs and a working group submitted recommendations to the commission in the spring, per Politico.

What they're saying: The defendants in the latest case could not be immediately reached for comment, but Reyes' attorney, told CNN he would "plead not guilty and had cooperated with the investigation."

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

The world still needs more coronavirus vaccines, but an additional bottleneck has emerged in many low-income countries: They need help getting shots in arms.

Why it matters: Increasing vaccination rates across the world is both a humanitarian necessity and the best way to prevent dangerous new variants from emerging, but it increasingly requires complex problem-solving.

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

COVID-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Europe, U.K.

People wearing masks walk in London on Nov. 25. Photo: Li Ying/Xinhua via Getty Images

Health officials in the United Kingdom, Italy and Germany announced on Saturday that they've detected the first known cases of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The discoveries come as the world scrambles to respond to concerns over the new variant, discovered in South Africa earlier this week.

Black Friday in-store shopping up from 2020 but trails pre-pandemic levels

Shoppers carry their purchases during Black Friday shopping at Fashion Outlets of Chicago in Rosemont of Greater Chicago Area, Illinois on Nov. 26, 2021. Photo: Joel Lerner/Xinhua via Getty Images

More shoppers flocked to stores on Black Friday this year compared to last, but online shopping was lower than expected, according to data from Friday.

Driving the news: Online shopping was on the lower end of what was expected, largely because people had been ringing up their shopping carts earlier in the year in an effort to skirt potential supply chain issues, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!