A storm has been quietly brewing around Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Party (DNC) since 2012 over accusations of illegal campaign contributions and now the Hillary loving mainstream media may not be able to hide the news story anymore.
Most coverage of complaints to the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) about Clinton and the DNC has been from conservative media – until now. Fox News and Investor’s Business Daily have run several pieces on what both called a “corrupt money scheme” but the story made headlines with MSNBC last week.
In an interview Tuesday with MSNBC, Rep. Francis Rooney (Rep-FL) said:
We’ve seen a lot of ends-before-the-means culture, both out of the Obama administration; out of Hillary Clinton, you know, with her $84 million of potentially illegal campaign contributions or the Clinton Foundation Uranium One [scandal] … People need a good clean government.
This story began in 2013 when Shaun McCutcheon, a Republican donor, sued the DNC over FEC regulations that limit how much money a donor can give to a candidate and party during any campaign cycle. At that time, McCutcheon won his case, but the Supreme ruled that the court didn’t see how monies could be rerouted through state political parties. Unfortunately their short sightedness allowed the Clinton campaign to figure out how to do just that. The attorney who filed a complaint against the Clinton campaign wrote in an email concerning that case:
If state parties never had any actual custody or control, the ‘allocation’ of funds to them was never a contribution to them, but rather an attempt to paper the funds through strawmen on the way to the DNC, where the funds were placed under the control of Team Clinton in Brooklyn. Thus, the $300,000(ish) from Calvin Klein was not a contribution to each of the participating entities, but rather an excessive contribution to at least the DNC, and since they took that money and put it under the custody and control of Team Clinton, it is an excessive contribution to the campaign. If that’s how it was pitched to donors (I’ll bet you a steak dinner on that one), those doing the pitching violated federal law.
In brief, here is what the FEC allows: an individual donor can contribute $2,700 to any candidate, $10,000 to any state party committee, and $33,400 to a national party’s main account, per election cycle. A donor cannot exceed the base limit for any one recipient but political groups can get together and take a single check from a donor that meets those contribution limits. State parties can make unlimited transfers to their national party.
What is not allowed, and the Clinton team appears to have done anyway, is to solicit or accept contributions to circumvent base limits, through “earmarks” and “straw men” that are ultimately excessive — there are five separate prohibitions here.
The DNC accepted six-figure donations that never actually passed through state party accounts and therefore were never under state party control. To add to their offense, the DNC never reported those contributions as given to the FEC.
More weight was given to the charges when Donna Brazile, former DNC chairman revealed in her book that the DNC essentially laundered money by placing donations directly under the Clinton campaign’s direct control, a blatant breach of campaign finance law. Democratic donors knew the funds would end up with Clinton’s campaign. Numerous such six-figure checks – 100 times larger than allowed – made their way directly to Clinton’s try for president.
In the meantime, the mainstream media has followed the DNC’s lead in basically ignoring the story. When several state party chairman were contacted for their comments on the issue, all said they were unaware of it. Since Brazile released her book, state Democratic Party chairs have criticized the 2016 funding arrangement but none saw it as illegal.
After the campaign, Brazile began releasing excerpts from her memoir “Hacks,” in which she described a DNC that was effectively run by Clinton’s campaign. After Brazile went public Dan Backer of the Committee to Defend the President, wrote:
The DNC, in turn, contributed most of those funds to HFA, made coordinated expenditures with HFA and otherwise transferred control of its money to HFA, as both the DNC’s own public filings and former DNC chairwoman Donna Brazile’s public confessions make clear …In McCutcheon v. FEC, 134 S. Ct. 1434, 1455 (2014), the Supreme Court itself recognized this precise arrangement would flatly violate federal earmarking restrictions, … though the court dismissed the possibility of such a flagrantly illegal scheme as ‘unlikely’ to occur. Not even the Supreme Court could anticipate the extent to which the Democratic Party and its elite, wealthy donor class would commit willful felonies in a futile attempt to facilitate Clinton’s election.
Fox News reported that Democratic establishment “us[ing] state chapters as straw men to circumvent campaign donation limits and launder[ing] the money back to her campaign.”
The Clinton campaign solicited six-figure donations from major donors, including Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane and Calvin Klein, and the routed the monies to the Clinton campaign via state parties. Around $84 million may have eventually been laundered making this the largest campaign finance scandal in U.S. history.
Representative Rooney’s complaint rests entirely on FEC reports filed by Democrats, memos authored by Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook, and the public statements of Donna Brazile.
Paul S. Ryan, a vice president of Common Cause, said that “the possibility of this type of scheme was why I was critical of McCutcheon in the first place,” and that some type of probe into the practice of larger joint fundraising agreements was inevitable.
If nothing else, individual donors should be concerned because their tax status is now in question. The DNC should be fined at the least but more appropriately charged with breaking FEC laws. Conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza was sentenced to eight months in a community confinement center and five years of probation for contested contributions totaling $20,000. Clinton’s $84 million is 4,000 times larger.