Ethics Watchdog To FEC: Uh, The DNC Chair Might Have Illegally Appropriated Campaign Funds

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Oct 20, 2017 12:50 PM
Ethics Watchdog To FEC: Uh, The DNC Chair Might Have Illegally Appropriated Campaign Funds

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez isn’t having the best week. First, his latest appointees to the various DNC committees were seen as him giving the finger to the more progressive wing of the Democratic Party; he demoted or removed persons that did not support his DNC candidacy. This was done prior to their fall meeting in Las Vegas. Then, there’s the whole notion that he’s pretty much a terrible chairman. Even Democrats are starting to sour on him, noting that he could be doing better to get the party’s machinery in gear—especially since the 2018 midterms are upon us. The Democrats have no real agenda, no message, a crappy campaign war chest, and no leader. And speaking of war chests, a non-partisan ethics group, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust, have filed a complaint against Perez for using campaign funds from a 527 group that he started to pay off the debts of some of his opponents in the DNC chairman’s race. FACT’s executive director, Kendra Arnold, has called on the Federal Election Commission to conduct an investigation. Here’s their statement:

FACT’s complaint maintains that DNC Chairman Tom Perez illegally transferred funds from his campaign account used to fund his chairman’s race to pay off the debts of his former opponents.

In 2016, Perez established “Team Tom,” an organization under 26 U.S.C. § 527 in order to raise money and make expenditures in his race to become DNC Chairman. A month after being elected DNC Chair in February, 2017, Perez used over $27,000 in campaign funds to pay off the debts of his former opponents (Jamie Harrison, Jehmu Green and Sally Boynton) who dropped out of the chairman’s race and later supported Perez’s candidacy. Campaign finance laws stipulate that national party committees and their agents are prohibited from using non-federal funds. Since funds raised and spent by “Team Tom” were non-federal funds and Chairman Perez directed those funds to his former opponents while in his official capacity at the DNC, both the DNC and Perez broke campaign finance laws.

“The laws applicable in this case exist to prevent political extortion and corruption, which is why the Supreme Court has explained the importance of the Act’s applicability to national party committees and party officers,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT). “Therefore, we are calling on the FEC to immediately investigate and enforce the law because allowing this behavior to go unpunished opens the door for a new level of corruption in party elections, namely offering campaign cash for support from former opponents,” Arnold added.

You can read the full complaint here.