A Catonsville man is facing a federal charge stemming from income he received in 2016 when he set up a super PAC offering a chance to win dinner with Donald Trump.
Nobody won dinner with the now-former president, who was the GOP front-runner when Ian Richard Hawes formed American Horizons, the super PAC that offered entries for a chance to win the dinner. The solicitations on social media allowed free entries, but suggested donations would double a contributor’s chances to win, according to federal prosecutors.
The fine print on the now-defunct website stated the actual prize was tickets to a fundraising event with Trump and others, according to Politico, which first reported on the “Dinner with Donald Trump” scheme in 2016. Trump’s campaign disavowed the super PAC shortly after the reporting, stating it was not connected to the fundraising effort.
In the end, American Horizons raised more than $1.1 million, according to Federal Election Commission records. But nobody won anything, federal prosecutors said in the tax charge filed Tuesday.
Hawes terminated the super PAC shortly after Trump’s inauguration, and had contributed no money to any political campaign. Hawes used more than $375,000 for personal expenditures — an engagement ring, a yacht rental, wedding rings, a luxury car and vacations, as well as debt payments and a down payment for a new residence. More than $443,000 went to social media advertising, and $36,000 was issued in refunds to donors.
Hawes did not return a call seeking comment on the matter Wednesday. He did not have an attorney listed in court records. Speaking with Politico in 2016, he denied the dinner fundraiser was a scam.
Federal prosecutors allege Hawes, then a self-employed software developer, did not file a tax return for 2016. He filed tax returns for the years prior, and the years that followed, but filed only a request for an extension in 2016. He would have had to include in his income the hundreds of thousands he used for personal expenses, prosecutors said.
If found guilty, the misdemeanor tax charge could land Hawes in prison for a maximum of a year. He does not have a court date set in federal court records.