Democratic presidential primary candidate Bill de Blasio is under fire this week as a government ethics watchdog has accused his campaign of multiple federal financial violations.
According to Politico, the non-partisan Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint Wednesday with the Federal Election Commission alleging the New York City mayor’s presidential campaign has violated multiple federal rules by playing a “shell game” to hide unethical pre-financing of the campaign while the candidate was still in the exploratory phase.
“By concocting this shell game, de Blasio allowed donors to give above and beyond legal contribution limits by routing money through a federal and state PAC, in apparent violation of federal campaign finance law,” the CLC wrote in a statement on its website Wednesday.
The organization alleges that several wealthy supporters who have given the maximum legal primary donation of $2,800 to de Blasio’s 2020 campaign also donated as much as $5,000 to two political action committees that spent money “laying the groundwork for de Blasio’s presidential run” before he officially announced.
And the CLC said this shady financial behavior “left voters in the dark about the extent and sources of the candidate’s support,” as “at least 25 donors had exceeded legal limits by nearly 300%.”
“Fairness PAC and NY Fairness PAC paid for hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff, polling, and travel to early primary states in the months before de Blasio formally announced his candidacy,” CLC wrote.
“Any expenditures made while ‘testing the waters’ for a presidential run — along with contributions that paid for the expenses — must be reported to the FEC, so that the public has a clear view of the facts necessary to properly evaluate candidates for office and to cast an informed vote.
“However, de Blasio 2020’s first report, filed last month, reported some of the testing-the-waters expenditures paid for by the two PACs, but failed to report any of the contributors,” it added.
According to Fox Business, a campaign spokesperson told the outlet de Blasio 2020 is “reviewing the complaint now,” but the campaign has reportedly argued in the past that money farmed from organizations that do not act as official exploratory committees are not subject to FEC rules.
This is not the first time in recent memory that Democrats supposedly supportive of “campaign finance reform” and getting money out of politics have been accused of committing serious campaign finance violations on the campaign trail.
As reported by The Western Journal, a PAC with deep roots in freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘s New York congressional run came under scrutiny in June when a watchdog organization accused the organization of using funds to “retire debts” that did not exist, to the tune of several thousand dollars.
CNN Politics also reported in June that Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota would be forced by the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board to reimburse her campaign committee for $3,500 and pay a fine of $500 for spending state campaign funds on out-of-state travel.
And freshman Rep. Lori Trahan came under intense scrutiny from two watchdog groups who accused her of accepting an illegal donation and failing to report it when she personally loaned her campaign $371,000 to pull ahead in the final weeks of a hotly contested Massachusetts primary, according to the Boston Globe.
Personal loans made to one’s campaign are a legal action, the account that Trahan used to provide the loan, however, was shared between Trahan and her husband, Lowell, Massachusetts businessman — thus violating campaign finance rules.
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