On Monday, Bernie Sanders unleashed a strongly worded critique of rival Hillary Clinton, accusing her campaign of using 32 state-level parties as “money laundering” conduits and accusing her of pillaging the Democratic Party fundraising operations she claims to support.
In the lead-up to the New York primary, the Sanders campaign accused Clinton of engaging in money laundering to circumvent campaign finance restrictions that limit a candidate to raising $2,700 from each individual donor. The Sanders campaign alleged at the time that an agreement between 32 state-level Democratic organizations and the DNC allowed the Hillary Victory Fund to raise $356,100 from each wealthy donor, with a disproportionate share of those funds going to her election campaign.
The Clinton campaign has long touted the cooperative fundraising agreement as a means to provide state parties with access to her high-dollar fundraising network, to build the Democratic Party apparatus.
However, Federal Election Committee (FEC) reports find that the Hillary Victory Fund has distributed 99% of the funds raised to Clinton’s presidential campaign, leaving just 1% of the funds to state-level parties. Notably, by participating in the cooperative fundraising agreement, these state-level parties cannot go back to Victory Fund donors who are considered to have made a maxed-out donation to those parties.
Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver responded to the FEC report findings on Monday saying, "Secretary Clinton is looting funds meant for the state parties to skirt fundraising limits on her presidential campaign. We think the Clinton campaign should let the state parties keep their fair share of the cash."
The Sanders campaign recently faced opposition from state party leaders for failing to participate in the DNC cooperative fundraising agreement, on the basis that Secretary Clinton was doing the hard work of developing state parties while Sanders merely talked about a revolution.
That narrative ended Monday, with findings that the Clinton campaign was misappropriating funds from these arrangements.
"Secretary Clinton has exploited the rules in ways that let her high-dollar donors like Alice Walton of Wal-Mart fame and actor George Clooney and his super-rich Hollywood friends skirt legal limits on campaign contributions," said Weaver. "If Secretary Clinton can’t raise the funds needed to run in a competitive primary without resorting to laundering, how will she compete against Donald Trump in a general election?"
Weaver expressed doubt that Clinton intends to address campaign finance reform, in light of her circumvention of existing campaign finance limits. "You cannot exploit a broken campaign finance system one day and vow to get big money out of politics the next," said Weaver.