Bernie Sanders’ campaign accused Hillary Clinton of breaching campaign finance laws one day before the New York primary.
The accusation pertains to a joint fundraising deal between Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, called the Hillary Victory Fund, which raises and spends money on behalf of Clinton’s official campaign committee, Hillary for America, the DNC, and 33 state Democratic parties.
In a letter Sanders campaign attorney Brad Deutsch wrote to DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, he accused the former Secretary of State’s presidential campaign of violating “legal limits on donations by improperly subsidizing Clinton’s campaign bid by paying her staffers with funds from the joint DNC-Clinton committee.”
BREAKING: Bernie Sanders campaign is accusing the Clinton camp and DNC of colluding to violate campaign finance law https://t.co/9RGUiu0Daf
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) April 18, 2016
The Sanders campaign argued that the way HVF was set up allowed it to receive individual donations worth hundred of thousands of dollars, pointing out that some of the donations it received exceeded up to 130 times the $2,700 individual donors are allowed to contribute to campaigns under federal election rules. This money, in turn, is being used by Hillary Clinton’s campaign to pay for campaigning activities and salaries, which constitutes a “serious violation” of campaign finance laws, Deutsch wrote in the letter.
“Bernie 2016 is particularly concerned that these extremely large-dollar individual contributions have been used by HVF to pay for more than $7.8 million in direct mail efforts and over $8.6 million in online advertising.”
Vice Newssummed up the accusations made by Sanders campaign in the following manner.
“In total, individuals can give up to $358,000 to the joint fundraising committee, should a Democratic donor choose to max out to Clinton’s campaign, the DNC and each state party. But the Clinton campaign itself can only accept $2,700 from each individual donor, which is processed through the joint fundraising committee and passed on to her campaign. The Sanders team is arguing that the remaining high-dollar donations are still benefiting her, even though the money is not directly flowing through her campaign’s coffers.”
While Bernie Sanders has long maintained that the Democratic National Committee has favored Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign, the present instance is unprecedented in the sense that DNC can be unequivocally seen supporting Clinton get away with major financial irregularities, according to Sanders’ campaign manager Jeff Weaver.
“While the use of joint fundraising agreements has existed for some time – it is unprecedented for the DNC to allow a joint committee to be exploited to the benefit of one candidate in the midst of a contested nominating contest.”
The $2,700 individual donation cap has been an obstacle for the Clinton campaign since early 2016, with U.S. Uncut reporting that Hillary Clinton was already panicking at her campaign’s well of maximum donors drying out with nearly half a year to go before the nominating contest was over.
Although neither Hillary Clinton nor the DNC have formally responded to the accusations, Clinton’s campaign chairman, Robby Mook, said that Bernie Sanders is trying to mislead people into raising funds for him by making such attacks, according to Reuters.
“It is shameful that Senator Sanders has resorted to irresponsible and misleading attacks just to raise money for himself,” Mook said.
Bernie Sanders’ ratcheting up of the rhetoric couldn’t have been more appropriately timed, and while Hillary Clinton will contend that it is only a ploy by the Vermont senator to sway voters, the accusations have left her with almost no time to respond before New York goes to vote later today.
[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]