A federal lawsuit filed by a pro-President Trump PAC alleges the 2016 Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee skirted fundraising laws by sending millions to state committees that funneled the cash back to the DNC to help Clinton, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Up to 40 states could be implicated for sending about $84 million to the Clinton campaign, the New York Post noted.
The Committee to Defend the President initially filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission back in December, but FEC officials did not do anything prior a mandated deadline, the Review-Journal learned from Dan Backer, the PAC’s finance attorney.
According to the FEC complaint, “an unprecedented, massive, nationwide multi-million-dollar conspiracy” took place where Democrats and the Clinton campaign were “effectively laundering nearly all contributions” sent to the Hillary Victory Fund.
“You had individuals giving $300,000,” Backer told the Review-Journal. “They’re not doing it because they care about Nevada’s or Arkansas’ state party. They’re doing it to curry favor with and buy influence with Hillary Clinton.”
Suspicions about Clinton’s fundraising were raised during the Democratic primary. In May 2015, Clinton promised to “rebuild our party from the ground up,” saying “when our state parties are strong, we win. That’s what will happen.”
Politico pointed to this Clinton statement in a March 2016 piece on the Democratic fundraising campaign one year after the launch of the Hillary Victory Fund, an apparent joint fundraising committee that consisted of Clinton’s presidential campaign, the DNC and 32 state party committees.
Because of the arrangement, the campaign could solicit donations from ultra-wealthy single donors of $350,000 or more.
However, according to Politico’s analysis of FEC filings, less than 1 percent of the $61 million raised at that point had remained in the state parties’ pockets, which set off the alarms of campaign finance watchdog organizations and Democrats supporting her primary opponent Bernie Sanders.
By April 2016, the fund had moved $3.8 million to the state parties but $3.3 million of that money was promptly wired to the DNC, Politico reported, and often within a two-day time span by the Clinton staffer who led the committee at the time.
“It’s a one-sided benefit,” a Democratic state party official involved with the fundraising effort told Politico at the time.
“The DNC has given us some guidance on what they’re saying, but it’s not clear what we should be saying,” the official continued. “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.”
The Sanders campaign slammed the Clinton-DNC set up in April 2016, saying that “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.”
According to Politico, the Clinton campaign and the DNC defended the Victory Fund saying that all Democrats, even those not involved in the fund, would benefit from the arrangement by claiming the money would go toward improving voter data and research for the state committees.