Perez Paid Off Rival's Campaign Debt After He Dropped Out of Chairmanship Race and Endorsed Him

Leah Barkoukis
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Posted: Jul 14, 2017 4:00 PM
Perez Paid Off Rival's Campaign Debt After He Dropped Out of Chairmanship Race and Endorsed Him

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez transferred more than $22,000 to his former rival Jaime Harrison’s campaign after he dropped out of the race for DNC chair and endorsed Perez two days before the vote.

Politico reports that the amount was disclosed in an IRS filing by Harrison’s campaign. The $22,270 donation cleared his campaign’s debt.

[Harrison] was said to have had the third-highest number of supporters when he dropped out of the race and endorsed Perez, who went on to win the chairmanship by a 35-vote margin out of 435.

Harrison, who was chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party at the time, said in an interview that he and Perez did not discuss the transfer at the time of the endorsement, and Perez also transferred funds to two other failed candidates for DNC chairman. The report showing Perez’s contribution to Harrison — more than one-fifth of the money Harrison raised — is the first glimpse into the campaign finances behind Perez’s bid as he closed in on the chairmanship this winter. Perez’s committee last filed a financial disclosure in January; another is due at the end of this month. (Politico)

Harrison said he decided to endorse Perez after conversations with him and Rep. Keith Ellison, who was Perez’s main rival, about the future of the Democratic Party. It was only after the race was over that Perez’s staff “asked if they could be helpful,” and Harrison obliged, he explained.

But Harrison wasn’t the only one Perez helped.

Perez also gave $5,000 to political commentator Jehmu Greene, who endorsed him after she dropped out of the race, Greene said — although that only covered a part of her campaign debt. DNC Communications Director Xochitl Hinojosa said that Perez also assisted Sally Boynton Brown, now a top staffer for the Florida Democratic Party who did not respond to a request for comment.

“Tom had left over funds after the DNC race and was happy to help the other candidates who asked for help with their campaign debt,” Hinojosa said, reports Politico.

No money was given to Raymond Buckley, the New Hampshire Democratic Party chair, who endorsed Keith Ellison after he dropped out of the race a week before the vote.

An aide to Perez said Harrison, Greene and Boynton Brown were given financial assistance because they were the only ones who asked for help paying their debt.