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Will the DOJ Go After the Beto Campaign for Diverting Campaign Funds to the Caravan?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

The Department of Justice has developed a reputation for targeting Republican politicians through election laws. Republicans are often sent to prison, while Democrats frequently get nothing more than a fine. Even though a Republican president is in power, with his appointee Jeff Sessions heading up the DOJ, the Deep State is entrenched in the agency, continuing to target Republicans. But this is finally all coming to light, as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team zealously goes after those connected to President Trump.


Last week, Project Veritas caught staffers on the campaign of Beto O’Rourke, who is running against Ted Cruz for Senate, on video saying the campaign spent money on supplies for the caravan of people from Central America headed to the U.S. This is a clear violation of law. But will the campaign be prosecuted?

The Bill Moyers site explains why some election violations receive fines, but others are criminally prosecuted. “While most of campaign finance laws are enforced administratively (when they are bothered to be enforced) by the Federal Election Commission (FEC) with civil fines, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has concurrent criminal jurisdiction over willful violations of the campaign finance laws...”

In other words, if the DOJ wants to jump in and prosecute an election violation, it can. Or the DOJ can just leave it to the FEC to handle administratively. This is very arbitrary. The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 states that campaign finance violations done knowingly and intentionally, “aggregating $25,000 or more are five-year felonies, and those that involve illegal conduit contributions and aggregate over $10,000 are two-year felonies.” If prosecutors decide the violations weren’t done knowingly and intentionally, then they’re handled administratively. 


But what if there’s no evidence, no admission, that a campaign finance violation was done knowingly and intentionally? This is where more unfairness comes in. If prosecutors want to get someone without any evidence, they just presume that the person acted knowingly and intentionally, in order to justify trying the violation as a crime. 

Staffers on the Beto O’Rourke campaign fully admitted on hidden camera that they knew they were committing election violations. An attorney for Project Veritas say the actions violate the FEC’s rules against personal use and reporting. It also violates Section 1001, making a false statement to the government. If found to have violated the FEC rules, there could be a fine of up to $10,000 or 200 percent of the funds involved. If found to have violated Section 1001, it is a crime punishable by up to five years in prison. 

Plenty of Democrats have committed similar campaign finance violations and were merely fined. President Obama’s 2008 campaign committed three violations involving large sums of money but was only fined $350,000. His campaign committee failed to disclose millions of dollars in contributions and delayed refunding contributions over the legal limit. The campaign also incorrectly dated filings dealing with $85 million in funds. 


The list of Republicans targeted by the DOJ (or similar prosecutors) continues to grow. One of the first big targets was the late Sen. Ted Stevens. Others include former Rep. Rick Renzi, documentary filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, former Rep. Tom DeLay, former Gov. Bob McDonnell, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Utah AG John Swallow. The most recent victim is former Rep. Steve Stockman, who will be sentenced today, possibly for the rest of his life in prison.

Unfortunately, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has turned out to be a disappointment, unwilling to rock the boat. He’s let the DOJ prosecutors continue to run rampant targeting Republicans. Sadly, very few people are willing to stand up for those who are targeted, afraid of becoming targets themselves. Those who are prosecuted are advised not to go public with their side of the story, or face retaliation. After I wrote about Steve Stockman, and published a defense of him on my website, the prosecution used it against him in the sentencing memorandum. They said Stockman showed no remorse and instead made “baseless accusations of bias.” The article in question wasn’t even written by Stockman, but by by a witness for the prosecution who changed his mind after the trial and decided Stockman was completely innocent.  


Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) is currently being prosecuted by the DOJ for essentially the same thing the Beto campaign did — diverting campaign funds for another purpose. I will be shocked if the DOJ actually gives the Beto campaign the same criminal treatment.  

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