Dissecting Hillary’s Campaign Finance Woes

Benjamin Barr
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Posted: Sep 03, 2015 1:40 PM
Dissecting Hillary’s Campaign Finance Woes

Earlier this week, Project Veritas Action released an important video detailing how the Hillary for America campaign willingly accepted foreign political contributions. Many journalists have created a good deal of ruckus about the supposed lack of seriousness of this exposé. Thanks to this commotion—or deliberate obfuscation—a great deal of confusion needs to be sorted out.

Project Veritas Action caught a Canadian citizen wanting to make a contribution to the Hillary campaign at its Roosevelt Island event. After some discussion, high-ranking campaign staffers and the Canadian came to an agreement to make the political contribution through a “straw donor.” That is, the American donor would give $40 of her own money and $35 of the Canadian’s all under her own name. However the Hillary campaign may spin it, this is simply illegal under the Federal Election Campaign Act.

The Hillary narrative goes something like this: nothing prohibits someone from buying campaign merchandise and giving it to a foreigner as a gift. That’s a fun story, but has no relevance here. It is not a “gift” to buy someone something when they give you the money to buy it for them. As is made evident in the video, the Canadian wants to make a political contribution to Hillary for America. And as is so common, campaigns provide “campaign swag” for certain levels of political contributions. No doubt about it—money given to the Hillary for America committee is not funding a new fashion line. It is funding her political campaign.

Federal law is abundantly clear about these issues. Candidates for federal office and their campaigns may not accept even a dollar of foreign money in political contributions. The Veritas Action video illustrates that Hillary’s staff was aware of this prohibition, discussed it, and decided to create a scheme to evade it. . Not serious? The law also prohibits the use of “straw men” contribution schemes where one person makes a political contribution for another. This kind of scheme landed conservative activist Dinesh D’Souza in jail. Apparently the law had very serious application for him, but is not so strict for Hillary.

In a sudden, nearly miraculous display of lenity toward campaign finance violations, many journalists are reporting that this video is about a Canadian wanting to buy a Hillary t-shirt. Of course, that’s not really the issue. Individuals are providing political contributions to the campaign—why else would the staffers be so concerned about federal election laws that barred foreign political contributions? Other journalists are reporting that this one incident is just nothing to be concerned about, because the Canadian only contributed about $35. But a candidate running for the highest office in this land who faces a series of controversies about foundation corruption, her private e-mail server, and now blatant disregard for federal election law should raise some eyebrows. This was just one incident one summer day in New York, and at least begs the question—how many other times have Hillary’s top campaign staffers lackadaisically skirted the law?

To be certain, the Project Veritas Action journalist who recorded the video committed a technical violation of the law—something akin to campaign finance jaywalking. By serving as a conduit, the Federal Election Commission could impose a small civil penalty against her. But the Hillary campaign, by contrast, engaged in the open evasion of federal election law and displayed a willingness to accept foreign contributions and devise a fraudulent conduit scheme. This sort of subterfuge appeared serious when the press covered the Dinesh D’Souza indictment. It should be treated equally seriously here.