Hillary Clinton has said that her joint fundraising committee, the Hillary Victory Fund, will fairly share the proceeds with down-ticket Democrats. It hasn’t, according to Politico. And Bernie Sanders is slamming the venture to end what he refers to as a money-laundering scheme that allows Clinton to skirt campaign finance laws.
Hillary Clinton has long justified taking large sums from wealthy donors by saying the money was going to DNC down-ticket Democrats to help them win state-level elections. The Hillary Victory Fund was touted as a vehicle for these joint-fundraising operations, but according to an in-depth analysis from Politico, less than 1 percent of the $61 million raised by the committee has stayed with the state candidates.
In most cases, the campaigns see no benefit from their agreements with the DNC. In others, it is actually hurting the down-ticket Democrats. Sources speaking to Politico said the state campaigns were afraid to complain, fearing reprisal from Clinton and the DNC.
The former secretary of State accused Bernie Sanders of doing nothing for the party; turns out that doing nothing might have been relatively better.
The Politico analysis from the FEC records at the end of April showed that the Hillary Victory Fund transferred $15.4 million directly to the Clinton campaign, another $5.7 million to the DNC, and $3.8 million to other Democratic candidates. But that paltry $3.8 million isn’t particularly meaningful because 88 percent of it was transferred back to the DNC within a day or two.
The analysis highlighted a few cases of how this worked. The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party received $43,500 from the fund on November 2 — they gave the same amount back on the same day. On December 1 they got $20,600, sent the same sum back the next day. They got $150,000 on January 4, then sent the same amount back that day.
In total, the party gained $0, but $214,100 moved through its accounts and back to the DNC, which is more than the DNC would be able to directly accept because it came from donors who already reached the maximum they could donate. Most participating state parties had the similar situations. Bernie Sanders’ campaign claims that this is money-laundering to get away with breaking campaign finance rules.
One official said, “It’s a one-sided benefit,” but it could theoretically hurt down-ticket Democrats fighting in contested races. Those candidates might not be able to accept money from rich donors, because the donors’ victory fund donations count towards their $10,000 limits.
As part of the agreements, the state parties knew that Clinton would keep control of funds moving in and out of the accounts, but in some cases, they were not even notified of transfers despite conditions that their affirmative consent would be required.
As far as the victory fund’s own activities are concerned, most of the $23.3 million spent has gone to things that directly benefit the Clinton campaign, including $2.8 million straight into salaries and benefits and another $8.6 million into online ads that are nearly identical to the campaign’s ads.
The Democratic Party appears to be aware of the potential controversy and has sent guidelines to the down-ticket parties, according to Politico‘s sources.
“The DNC has given us some guidance on what they’re saying, but it’s not clear what we should be saying. I don’t think anyone wants to get crosswise with the national party because we do need their resources. But everyone who entered into these agreements was doing it because they were asked to, not because there are immediately clear benefits.”
Bernie Sanders has a joint-fundraising committee too, but it’s remained inactive. As a result, Sanders’ campaign has drawn ire from media sources and politicians saying that he’s not doing enough to help the party.
Instead, Bernie Sanders has supported three progressive candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives using his own email lists, and all donations go directly to those campaigns. One of those candidates, Lucy Flores, lost her endorsement from EMILY’s List, a pro-choice women’s group and vehemently pro-Clinton, after endorsing Sanders, according to the Huffington Post, prompting Bernie Sanders to send out this email message.
“Lucy Flores endorsed our political revolution before the Nevada caucus, and everything changed. EMILY’s List decided to endorse a different person in Lucy’s House race this time around. So I want to support Lucy like she’s supported us, because we stand together.”
Now that Politico has exposed one of the shadier practices in Hillary Clinton’s financial network, Bernie Sanders is hitting hard. A campaign press release said it’s a sign of weakness that will hurt in the election against Trump.
“Secretary Clinton has exploited the rules in ways that let her high-dollar donors like Alice Walton of Wal-Mart fame and the actor George Clooney and his super-rich Hollywood friends skirt legal limits on campaign contributions. If Secretary Clinton can’t raise the funds needed to run in a competitive primary without resorting to laundering, how will she compete against Donald Trump in a general election?”
Bernie Sanders’ campaign has struggled in recent weeks against the Clinton campaign, leaving little hope of getting the nomination at the convention, but he’s promised to continue no matter what.
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