by Rick Moran
The Clinton campaign kept the lion's share of what was raised, stiffing the state parties, and then coordinated with the DNC to keep the facts from the press
Some of the more eye[brow] raising emails exposed by Wikileaks have to do with the joint fundraising group, the Hillary Clinton Victory Fund, and how little of the $81 million raised has gone to state Democratic parties that are supposed to benefit from the arrangement.
In essence, the Victory Fund was created to get around FEC regulations regarding the cap on donations that apply to these joint fundraising efforts so that the Clinton campaign could receive far more cash than they were supposed to.
These were the exact charges made by the Sanders campaign the last few months - that money that was supposed to go to state parties was ending up in Clinton's campaign coffers instead.
The arrangement, called the Hillary Victory Fund, allowed the Clinton campaign to seek contributions of hundreds of thousands of dollars to attend extravagant fundraisers including a dinner at George Clooney’s house and a concert at Radio City Music Hall featuring Katy Perry and Elton John. That’s resulted in criticism for Clinton, who has made opposition to big money in politics a key plank in her campaign platform.Records show it never got underway. The Clinton campaign kept the lion's share of what was raised, stiffing the state parties, and then coordinated with the DNC to keep the facts from the press.
Clinton’s allies have responded publicly by arguing that the fund is raising big money to boost down-ballot Democratic candidates by helping the 40 state parties that are now participating in the fund.
But privately, officials at the DNC and on Clinton’s campaign worked to parry questions raised by reporters, as well as Sanders’ since-aborted campaign, about the distribution of the money, according to a cache of hacked emails made public late last week by WikiLeaks.
The emails show the officials agreeing to withhold information from reporters about the Hillary Victory Fund’s allocation formula, working to align their stories about when — or if — the DNC had begun funding coordinated campaign committees with the states. They also show one official blaming Sanders for putting the DNC between “a real rock vs hard place” by forcing “a fight in the media with the party bosses over big money fundraising.”
The DNC’s deputy communications director Eric Walker in late April emailed a group of top officials asserting that the party shouldn’t “discuss funding allocations in the press for the RNC to see what we’re doing.” His boss Luis Miranda responded “There's been no coverage that we've found, which is what we wanted.”
Miranda argued in the emails that the committee should try to shape any coverage by claiming that “while the funds are going to the DNC right now to build tools and capacity for the general election, there will be a point when the funds stay in the states to fund coordinated campaigns that are now beginning to get organized.” But in a subsequent email in early May he admitted he wasn’t sure if the coordinated campaigns with the state parties were already getting started “or does it start later in the summer?”
Wasserman Schultz responded: “It starts now.”
There is little doubt that Clinton's actions violated the spirit of campaign finance laws. But even with the emails showing an intent to deceive, prosecution would be difficult. The campaign and the DNC could claim they were trying to keep funding secrets from Republicans and not circumvent the law. Indeed, it's a gray area that the Clintons are familiar with.
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