Up to 40 state Democratic Party operations may have colluded with the Clinton campaign in the most recent presidential election to attempt an end run around campaign finance laws, according to a new lawsuit.
As a result, up to $84 million may have been funneled to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, Fox News reported.
Dan Backer, a campaign finance attorney, filed the lawsuit.
It claims that the actions were part of an “unprecedented nationwide scheme to violate federal campaign finance law in which $84 million was effectively laundered over more than a year by the Hillary Victory Fund through dozens of state political party committees to the Democratic National Committee and, ultimately, to Hillary for America,” according to a complaint filed with the Federal Elections Commission by the Committee to Defend the President.
“The money was papered to make it look like it passed through state committees,” Backer said, according to the Bangor Daily News. However, he said, state parties never really had the money.
“And that makes this entire money laundering operation a scheme to circumvent base contribution limits to make massively excessive six-figure contributions through straw entities on paper in order to deliver them to Hillary Clinton’s control,” he said. “It is exceedingly illegal to do have done so.”
“You had individuals giving $300,000,” Backer said Friday, according to the Las Vegas 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.”
The money was initially raised through the Hillary Victory Fund, which had an agreement to share funds with the states. However, Backer contends, the money never arrived.
He said the fund supposedly sent $1.7 million to the Nevada Democratic Party from December 2015 to November 2016. But Nevada only reported receiving $146,200. Backer claims the money that did not go to Nevada went to the Democratic National Committee.
The remaining $1.6 million was sent by the Hillary Victory Fund to the Nevada party and received by the DNC and never appeared on the Nevada party’s reports, Backer contends.
Backer’s lawsuit claims that in Idaho, the plan sent $1.6 million to Clinton’s campaign that should have gone to the state party. However, the complaint also notes that state parties may not have had a role in the plan because all the transfers were made by the Clinton campaign or DNC, according to The Idaho Statesman.
Delaware’s state Democratic Party took in $2.4 million from the Hillary Victory Fund, but then shipped almost all of that according to WXDE.
Backer said the paper trail shows this was an organized effort by those associated with the Clinton campaign to circumvent campaign finance rules.
“There were 11 transactions where the Democratic State Committee of Delaware (Delaware Democratic Party) forwarded $2.5 million to the Democratic National Committee, and so these funds were raised, transferred to the Delaware Democratic Party and then transferred to the DNC on the exact same day, or at least that’s what was reported,” he said. “For example, November 2, 2016, $59,000 was reported transferred from the Hillary Victory Fund to the State Committee, and then the Delaware State Committee reports receiving it and then reports sending it to the DNC who also reports receiving that exact same amount.”
Backer said the scheme breaks the law because “the Supreme Court has said that we can impose a contribution limit on how much any one individual can give to any one candidate, state party, or political action committee. It doesn’t pass the sniff test. If I give you a million dollars for your campaign, I may not have bought anything, but it looks that way. The Supreme Court has widely upheld these base limits.”
State-level Democrats downplayed Backer’s claims.
“This is nothing more than a bogus political stunt feebly designed to distract from vulnerable Republicans’ disastrous agenda,” said Helen Kalla, a spokeswoman for the Nevada Democratic Party.
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