The Trump administration has vehemently denied making any payments to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her from spilling details about her 2006 tryst with US President Donald Trump. However, based on an exposé by The Wall Street Journal, a US watchdog is now claiming that the $130,000 (£92,972) hush-money payout was made using Trump's 2016 US presidential campaign funds.

The non-partisan group Common Cause has filed complaints with the US Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that the money paid to Daniels (Stephanie Clifford) constituted "an unreported in-kind contribution to President Trump's 2016 presidential campaign committee in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act".

"The American people expect and deserve transparency when it comes to money spent to influence elections and those requirements are not optional no matter how embarrassing the reason behind the expense," Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause, said in a statement on Monday, 22 January.

"Candidates and their attorneys cannot choose how and when to comply with federal campaign finance laws. We strongly urge the Justice Department and the FEC to fully investigate these apparent illegal activities and, if appropriate, to take action to hold the President and his campaign accountable."

The government watchdog has called on the agencies to determine whether the payment was made by the Trump Organization or some other corporation or individual.

"These apparent violations are not simple bookkeeping errors, but seemingly a deliberate evasion of the laws on the books to ensure Americans get a full accounting of the money raised and spent by and for candidates for the presidency," Paul S Ryan, Common Cause's Vice President for Policy and Litigation, said.

"These actions are just the latest examples of the president, his family, his campaign, and subsequently administration, playing fast and loose with the laws that apply to them. If these laws are not fully enforced, they will be ignored by candidates and administrations going forward to the detriment of our democracy."

The claims are based on the report that Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen made the payout to Daniels in 2016 around the time the presidential candidate was being accused of sexual misconduct by various women.

Ryan believes the funds should be considered a campaign expense since they "were paid for the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential general election".

Cohen, however, labelled the complaints as "baseless" according to The Washington Post. The DoJ, the FEC and the White House have yet to comment on the Common Cause allegations.