Featured image courtesy of AP
Hillary Clinton has recently come under fire by the political journalism organization, Politico, due to a joint fundraising effort with the Democratic Party called the Hillary Victory Fund. That joint fundraising effort was intended to help thirty-two state parties help candidates get elected to hard-to-win positions in national and state legislatures.
However, an analysis of a recent Federal Election Commission records found that, of the $61 million raised by the Hillary Victory Fund, less than 1% stayed with those 32 state parties. Of the $3.8 million transferred to state parties, $3.3 million was transferred back to the Democratic National Committee to go to Hillary for America’s campaign for the presidency, equivalent to 88% of the total money given to state parties.
These actions have been criticized by her opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who, in a press release, criticized the fund as “questionable dealings” and “serious apparent violations of campaign finance laws.”
The Hillary Victory Fund has given $5.7 million to the Democratic National Committee, and $15.7 million to Mrs. Clinton’s campaign. The fund spent $23.3 million on expenses that directly benefited Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, including $2.8 million for salary and overhead and $8.6 million for “web advertising that mostly looks indistinguishable from Clinton campaign ads and that has helped Clinton build a network of small donors who will be critical in a general election.”
The general counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, Larry Nobel, who served for 13 years as general counsel of the Federal Election Commission, the civil regulatory arm of the United States government enforcing campaign finance laws, says that: “It clearly goes against what was intended for the joint fundraising committees”. Commenting on its legality, he claims that the Victory Fund operates in a “gray area.”
The complaint against the Hillary Victory Fund began in April as a complaint letter from Garvey, Schubert, Barrer to the Democratic National Committee, criticizing the fund for “being used to impermissibly subsidize HFA [Hillary For America] through an over-reimbursement for campaign staffers and resources.” In response, her campaign manager, Robert Mook, claimed that the allegation was “irresponsible and dangerous” on Medium, and criticized Senator Sanders for sending a fundraising email following their criticism. Senator Sanders currently relies on small donations of less than $2,700 for 99.98% of his campaign finance, a stark difference from Hillary Clinton, who relies on SuperPACs and large corporations to fund 30% of her campaign finance.
The reaction to Mr. Mook’s writing and the Hillary Victory Fund has mostly been met by criticism throughout social media. On Medium, many alleged Mr. Mook of “spinning” and the fund of “money laundering”. These same sentiments were shared by Senator Sanders’s press team and members of the site Reddit. On the subreddit supporting Senator Sanders for the presidency, r/SandersforPresident, a consensus has developed that the fund is unethical, if not illegal. On the subreddit supporting Mrs. Clinton for the presidency, there is a disagreement about the purpose, legality, and political purpose of the Hillary Victory Fund.
Mrs. Clinton currently holds a 300+ delegate lead over Senator Sanders for the democratic nomination, and a 400+ lead in the controversial superdelegate system, making her almost the certain nominee of the Democratic Party. However, she currently polls within the margin of error against the Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump, while Senator Sanders polls 13.6% higher than Trump. The controversy over the Hillary Victory Fund will most likely hurt her in her race against Donald Trump, who has previously criticized the former Secretary of State before about politicians being subservient to campaign contributions.
In such a turbulent election season, with a demagogue from the Republican Party as the frontrunner, the Democratic Party faces a tougher battle than it has in previous recent elections. Should Mrs. Clinton win the nomination, she faces a tough path to the presidency, as nearly one-fourth of eligible voters claiming they will opt-out of voting between the two parties should there be a Trump-Clinton election. She also faces previous scandals, including Benghazi, an ongoing FBI investigation into her private email server, her refusal to show the transcripts of her Wall Street speeches, jokes about “Colored People Time,” and upsetting Native Americans by calling Mr. Trump “off the reservation.” Any additional scandal will not be good for Mrs. Clinton in the primary, with one person commenting, “I’m one scandal away from bingo on my Clinton Scandal Bingo card.”