Big name stars who wrote big dollar checks are lawyering up. Steven Spielberg, Calvin Klein, even the CEO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg were caught in the net. All could soon be facing charges of making contributions in excess of the Federal Election Commission limits.
“After months of review, the FEC has refused to address the Clintons’ $84 million money laundering scheme that violated several campaign finance laws,” Ted Harvey announced. He is chairman of the watchdog group filing the lawsuit on Monday that formally turns up conservative heat under the FEC.
“The Clinton machine has escaped accountability for its illegal practices for far too long.” Four months ago, attorney Dan Backer notified election officials of an “unprecedented scheme to circumvent federal campaign finance law” but those in charge of election security “failed to act.”
The Washington, D.C. watchdog group is accusing the FEC of intentionally dragging their feet. Limiting the amount of money that individuals, especially rich and powerful ones, can throw at a particular candidate is absolutely crucial to fighting corruption. Fair elections are impossible to maintain without such limits.
Clever accountants at the Hillary Victory Fund cooked up a way to funnel donations a hundred times the legal limit straight to Clinton. They took advantage of the twisted and tangled campaign finance laws to exploit a loophole. Or so they thought, what they did is still illegal, just harder to trace.
Legally, anyone can contribute $2,700 to any individual candidate. Not only that, they can donate $10,000 all at once to every state party and another $33,400 to a national party.
Adding it all up, HVF held dinners at George Clooney’s house and concerts with Elton John where democratic-leaning donors could write one convenient six-figure check and HVF would handle the details. Some stars donated more than $400,000.
In theory, you could write $320,000 for 32 separate state parties and $33,400 to the Democratic National Committee. That is how Donna Brazile explained it in her book, “Hacks.” According to Brazile, “the money would be deposited in the states first, and transferred to the DNC shortly after that.”
It didn’t quite happen that way. Nearly all of the $84 million went straight to Clinton’s Brooklyn campaign headquarters. Some of that money went right back out the door to Fusion GPS and Christopher Steele.
“By transferring money back and forth between committees and eventually filtering them into the Clinton campaign, the HVF essentially laundered funds,” Backer explains. This could be the “largest campaign finance scandal in American history.”
The Committee to Defend the President called the FEC’s apathy “arbitrary, capricious, contrary to law, and an abuse of discretion,” making it necessary for them to request “the Court to step in and demand action,” Harvey noted. “The American people demand that our most corrupt political figures answer for their transgressions.”
When the finance records became publicly available, it turned out that while HVF was appearing to transfer money to up to 40 various state parties, the parties were transferring the same figures directly back to the DNC within 24 hours.
“On the very same day each of these transfers supposedly occurred, or occasionally the very next day, every single one of those state parties purportedly contributed all of those funds to the DNC,” the lawsuit alleges.
Another thing Brazile admitted in her book was that the DNC placed every penny under the direct control of Hillary’s campaign. That is “a massive breach of campaign finance law that ties the conspiracy together.”
Bernie Sanders turned purple when he found out Clinton was controlling all the cash. He publicly accused HVF and Clinton of “looting funds.”
When you look at all the involved state’s records individually, it turns out that not all of them bothered to record the in-and-out transactions. The complaint and lawsuit allege that the failure shows the transfers didn’t really happen.
Right along with the ringleaders who crafted the con-game, at least a thousand famous stars and moguls are implicated in the conspiracy.
Admittedly, their defense lawyers will lay it all at the feet of HVF for setting up the bundle deal and vouching for its legality. They have a point, but that does not get them entirely off the hook.
Vera Wang and Seth MacFarlane, for example, probably had a pretty good idea that they were breaking the law but did it anyway.
They have good reason to be nervous. Harvey Whittemore’s two-week trial resulted in a jury finding him guilty of making illegal donations to Senator Harry Reid in 2007.
Former President Obama got his hand slapped when his campaign was caught with $1.36 million in improperly bundled contributions. In his case, the FEC didn’t go after individual contributors because Obama showed a fixable “clerical error” and cured the problem. That is not an option for HVF.
“Does Calvin Klein truly care about the Alaska Democratic Party?” attorney Backer asks. “Or was he trying to curry favor from Hillary Clinton? Which one seems more plausible?”
One thing in the government favor in these cases, they have a catch-all category the Department of Justice can charge you with. Under section 371 of the U.S. Code, “conspiracies to commit any offense against the U.S., in any manner or for any purpose,” are a crime.