Saturday, February 13, 2016

FEC Calls Bernie on Inadequately Reporting Donations

There have been a number of issues that have come up with Bernie's campaign. Surely the Bernie Bros will dismiss them as unimportant.

But there has been the data mining, the attempts to mislead unions and activist groups in Iowa and Nevada-the Culinary Union, etc-and now this.

While the media may not give it a lot of play, if this were the Hilary team, we'd be hearing a lot about it.

Bernie has bragged an awful lot about his fundraising, and it's interesting that such an implacable enemy of money in politics chose not to do public financing.

Despite his constant preening about not having a super PAC he has a nurses' union which has raised $1.5 million and other pacs that have raised lots of money for him.

Now the FEC has served him notice that he is in danger of being audited if he doesn't release some pertinent information on a number of donors.

The Federal Election Commission has launched an inquiry into hundreds of what it calls “excessive” unexplained contributions to the Bernie Sanders 2016 campaign for President, according to a letter the FEC has sent to Sanders and posted yesterday on its official government website. The inquiry comes even as Sanders tries to make the case that he’s running the cleanest campaign in the 2016 race due to his lack of excessive outside contributions, and the revelation could not come at a worse time."

"In what the FEC has titled “Excessive, Prohibited, and Impermissible Contributions” to the Bernie Sanders campaign, it lists nearly a thousand contributions from hundreds of donors, some of them repeat offenders. Sanders is accused of failing to provide adequate detail on who the contributors are beyond their names, which campaigns are required to make their best effort to do under federal law. The FEC is also informing Sanders that he “may have to refund the excessive amount” if he can’t adequately explain where all the money came from. But it gets worse."

"The FEC report also accuses the Bernie Sanders campaign of widespread “incorrectly reported” reimbursements for travel purposes and other costs. Sanders has been warned that if he cannot explain the stunningly long laundry list of violations, “failure to adequately respond by the response date noted above could result in an audit or enforcement action.” Read the full FEC report.
Nor is this the first time the Sanders campaign has had issues with the FEC:

Bernie Sanders, the independent senator from Vermont, has said super PACs and the unlimited amounts of money they can collect have put America on a path toward oligarchy.

“There is one issue that impacts every other issue,” Sanders told a crowd in Amherst, New Hampshire, on Labor Day. “It’s hard to say which issue is more important than the other, but the issue of campaign finance reform is huge.”

"But while the presidential candidate pledged he would not have a super PAC in the 2016 election, a number of unauthorized committees have sprung up to support Sanders’ run."

The existence of outside spending groups has created a dissonance between Sanders’ rhetoric and the reality of unbridled spending by PACs that can spring up and raise cash quickly, even when a candidate asks them not to.

One of those PACs has violated federal law.

"The Americans Socially United PAC website, run by a self-described lobbyist and diplomat named Cary Peterson, is active and seeking donations, and the founder claims that he has hundreds of workers organizing to elect Sanders each week."

"But the PAC did not disclose donations and disbursements of funds to the Federal Election Commission."

"Peterson said he regularly meets with financial heavyweights from New York and Washington D.C., who have “maxed out” donations to the Sanders campaign and just secured a donation from Daniel Craig, who plays James Bond."

For me the main issue here is that he tries to draw this black and white distinction between himself and Hillary and other politicians on raising money. As noted, even FDR would not pass Bernie's strictures on who gets to be a True Progressive as he took money from Wall St and yet did Glass-Steagall.

But clearly he has some PACs raising big money for him and the fact that there are so many inadequately reported is not transparent and begs some disconcerting questions.

My main complaint with him is that he's an absolutist on this in terms of his own rhetoric but in practice there are some clear shades of grey. 

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