Bernie Sanders, who has built his campaign on fighting Wall Street and the political Establishment, is accusing the Democratic National Committee of using joint fundraising efforts to benefit Hillary Clinton’s campaign during a heated primary battle.
Brad Deutsch, an attorney for the Sanders campaign, penned a letter to DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz suggesting “serious apparent violations” of campaign finance laws. According to a press release from the Sanders campaign, the letter questioned whether the Clinton campaign violated legal limits on donations by improperly subsidizing her campaign bid when it paid Clinton staffers with funds from the joint DNC-Clinton committee.
The joint DNC-Clinton fund is titled the Hillary Victory Fund and operates separately from Hillary for America, her presidential campaign committee. The Hillary Victory Fund “appears to be skirting legal limits on federal campaign donations” and directly benefiting the Clinton campaign, according to the letter.
These joint fundraising agreements have been around for a while, but there are Federal Election Commission rules that regulate the contributions. According to the FEC, any “excessive contribution” needs to be split among the various committees, and currently, the funds aren’t being allocated proportionally. In this case, millions of dollars have been flowing from the Hillary Victory Fund to Hillary for America, and the Sanders campaign argues that because of this the DNC is allowing for subsidization of his opponent’s campaign.
“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,” said Jeff Weaver, Sanders’ campaign manager.
What’s more, this accusation follows a lawsuit filed by the Sanders campaign against the DNC for revoking its access to voter data — a move they felt directly favored Clinton.
“The joint fundraising with DNC is a clear violation and ethics violation,” said Nomiki Konst, founder of The Accountability Project, a nonprofit organization that investigates political corruption. “It is offensive to the millions of Democrats and newly registered voters who have given $27 to Bernie’s movement. They are spitting on the face of hard-working Democrats when they try to manipulate campaign finance laws to work in their favor.”
The DNC says that it offered the joint fundraising agreements to every candidate and claims it has done nothing wrong. “The DNC offered to engage in the same joint fundraising efforts with all the major presidential candidates early in the cycle and we welcome the efforts of the candidates to help raise money for the DNC and state parties now to ensure we can build out the infrastructure to win in November,” DNC press secretary Mark Paustenbach said in a statement.