On Wednesday, in an exclusive report, the Hill alleged that a super PAC backing Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton illegally accepted $200,000 in donations from “a company holding multiple contracts with the federal government.”
Under Federal Election Commission regulations, political action committees are barred from accepting donations from federal contractors.
Despite this law, however, “Boston-based Suffolk Construction made two contributions of $100,000 to Priorities USA, which is backing the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.”
“At the time it made the contributions,” the report continues, “Suffolk held multiple contracts worth $976,560 with the Department of Defense for maintenance and construction projects at a Naval base in Newport, R.I., and the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., according to the government website USASpending.gov.”
— The Hill (@thehill) June 29, 2016
The Hill notes that, while the law is explicit in banning such donations, it is rare that campaigns and super PACs supporting them are penalized for flouting these regulations, as neither party is able to muster the political will to enforce them.
“A review of campaign finance records by The Hill shows that the practice of skirting or openly flouting the contractor ban has become widespread in both congressional and presidential politics.”
This report comes as Hillary Clinton begins to pivot away from her intense and competitive primary battle with Bernie Sanders to a likely general election match-up with Donald Trump, who has attacked Clinton as a corrupt politician beholden to the interests of organized wealth.
Sanders also repeatedly and consistently raised questions about Hillary Clinton’s ability to further progressive causes, given the fact that she has accepted so much money — in both speaking fees and campaign contributions — from Wall Street.
The Clinton fundraising machine is, of course, not new to the realm of political controversy.
The Clinton Foundation has often come under intense scrutiny from both sides of the political aisle, with critics pointing to the foundation’s acceptance of donations from foreign governments as a potential conflict of interest.
Hillary Clinton has dismissed these charges, arguing that she has been transparent in her fundraising and pointing to the tax returns she has consistently released.
Still, the criticism of Clinton as an unprincipled fundraiser continues to linger, and this recent report is likely to add further fuel to the fire.
The Hill notes that while Suffolk Construction has lavished donations on a Hillary Clinton-supporting super PAC this year, the company has, in the past, been a major source of donations for Republican campaigns.
“In 2012,” the authors report, “it gave $510,000 to Restore Our Future, a super-PAC supporting GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and $50,000 to another group backing then-Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.).”
Federal contractors aren't allowed to make political donations. This pro-Clinton PAC took $200,000 from one anyway. https://t.co/cxwdGNM3um
— Steven Carraher (@StevenCarraher) June 29, 2016
These donations expose a massive loophole in American campaign finance law, which permits companies to funnel donations to groups backing political campaigns as long as they list these donations under the name of one of their subsidiaries that is “not named on the government contracts.”
Critics, particularly since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, have alleged that America’s campaign finance system grants unprecedented power to massive corporations, power that allows these companies and their executives to subvert democracy by funneling unlimited donations into the coffers of political action committees — donations that allow them to garner influence if their politician of choice reaches a position of power.
The New York Times called Citizens United a “radical decision” that “strikes at the heart of democracy.”
Since the ruling, issued in 2010, floods of so-called “dark money” have flooded political campaigns, and one of the most prominent beneficiaries has been Hillary Clinton.
This year, Hillary Clinton has accepted the most Wall Street cash of any other candidate, and she has repeatedly been criticized for accepting donations from fossil fuel lobbyists and private prisons.
Now, she is likely to face backlash from this latest report, which is yet another episode in the growing series of campaign finance violations committed by both of America’s major political parties — violations that are likely to spark outrage among the public but, as usual, little reaction from the political class.
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