On Wednesday the Federal Election Committee sent a letter to Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders’ campaign regarding 69 pages worth of sketchy campaign contributions.
Written in regard to the candidate’s latest quarterly report, which covered the period of time between April 1 and June 30, the letter by FEC Sr. Campaign Finance & Reviewing Analyst Jaime Amrhein specifically listed 69 pages worth of potentially “excessive,” “prohibited” or “impermissible” campaign contributions that don’t appear to meet the agency’s strict contribution requirements.
Excessive contributions are those that surpass the agency’s $2,800 limit per election. Prohibited contributions are those that are doled out by an unauthorized party such as a corporation, nonprofit, labor organization, federal government contractor, etc. It’s not clear what “impermissible” campaign contributions are, given as “impermissible” is a synonym for “prohibited.”
See the letter and the attached 69 pages worth of contributions below:
The letter was brought to the public’s attention via social media by Dave Levinthal, a senior reporter with the Center for Public Integrity, or CPI for short.
The CPI is a Pulitzer-Prize winning nonprofit whose stated mission is to “to reveal abuses of power, corruption and dereliction of duty by powerful public and private institutions in order to cause them to operate with honesty, integrity, accountability and to put the public interest first.”
Besides linking Twitter users to the letter, Levinthal also remarked that while it’s not uncommon for the FEC “to flag presidential candidates for such accounting issues,” 69 pages worth of red flags seems like “a lot.”
— Dave Levinthal (@davelevinthal) August 29, 2019
2/ While it’s not uncommon for the @FEC to flag presidential candidates for such accounting issues, particularly those campaigns that raise a ton of money, 69 pages is a lot.
— Dave Levinthal (@davelevinthal) August 29, 2019
The problem with Levinthal’s remark is that while 69 pages worth of potential violations is indeed “a lot” for the typical candidate, it’s actually a significant improvement for Sanders.
Flash back to May of 2016, two months before the Democrat National Convention.
“For months, the Federal Election Commission has been writing to the Sanders campaign with warnings that hundreds of his donors have exceeded the $2,700 contribution limit and that hundreds more may be foreign nationals illegally giving Sanders money,” The Atlantic reported at the time. “The most recent, and by far the longest, letter came on Tuesday and flagged more than 1,500 questionable donors.”
“Other campaigns this year have also struggled to track their donors and make sure they are contributing within federal limits. … But the sheer volume of potential violations by the Sanders campaign—the list flagged by the FEC ran 639 pages—appears to be unprecedented, and it suggests that the campaign’s operation has been unable to effectively manage its army of donors.”
The drop from 639 pages to 69 pages suggests that Sanders’ campaign officials have been at least somewhat successful in learning to properly track contributions. And FYI, while it may be tempting to some to ascribe ulterior motives to the latest violations, they do in reality appear to be related to mere incompetency, not inequity.
“The Sanders campaign … relies on a doner base of repeat givers,” the left-wing news site PoliticusUSA notes. “The campaign benefits from a Netflix style subscription model that allows donors to make automatic monthly donations. … The problem with low dollar recurring donor models is that they require more oversight than a traditional fundraising model.”
And oversight appears to be something that the socialist 2020 contender, who for the record has no real-world business or management experience, is not adept at.
This is your daily reminder that Bernie Sanders:
Has never held a real job in 77 years
Honeymooned in the Soviet Union
Claims to be a socialist yet owns three houses and is a multimillionaire
And has only passed 3 bills into law since 1991
He’s a disaster.
— Charlie Kirk (@charliekirk11) August 11, 2019
In the letter sent Wednesday, the FEC warned that failure to respond could result in “enforcement.”
“This notice requests information essential to full public disclosure of your federal election campaign finances,” it reads. “Failure to adequately respond by the response date noted above could result in an audit or enforcement action.”
While it’s unclear what sort of punitive actions the FEC may pursue against Sanders if he fails to comply, it’s known that most violations are dealt with administratively via fines.
And though it’s true there have been a select few cases that involved criminal prosecution and even prison time, those cases all either involved blatant fraud by the politician (as was the case with former New Jersey Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone, a Democrat) or the contributors themselves.
“Assemblyman Anthony Chiappone, 52 of Bayonne, pleaded guilty today to filing false campaign finance reports with the state Election Law Enforcement Commission,” The Jersey Journal reported in 2010. “In pleading guilty, Chiappone, a Democrat, must forfeit his Assembly seat and will be barred from holding future public office.”
And then there’s Tyler Eugene Harber, who was sentenced to 24 months in prison four years ago “for coordinating $325,000 in federal election campaign contributions by a political action committee (PAC) to a Congressional campaign committee,” as announced at the time by the Department of Justice.
The chances of Sanders facing similar punishment for his incompetency fueled violations seems extraordinarily low.
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