Bernie Sanders fans have often suspected there's something amiss in how quickly Hillary Clinton shored up that party's nomination.
Back in late 2015, the Sanders campaign was convinced the Democratic National Committee, and its chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, were helping Clinton, the frontrunner, by limiting the number of candidate debates.
Then Sanders supporters started wondering: What's up with all these superdelegates? How is it that Clinton got virtually every single free agent delegate before people in primary states even Googled their polling place?
Add another suspicious occurrence to the list, as of a Politico story released yesterday. Though, this one's got something those others didn't: A paper trail.
Hillary Clinton has raised $61 million through a joint fundraising committee, which connects the Clinton campaign and 32 state-level parties, including the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. That money was supposed to use Clinton's big name and moneyed connections to spread the wealth around to those parties. (In one case last month, the campaign was advertising the chance to sit with George Clooney, his wife Amal, and Hillary during a San Francisco fundraiser — so long as the poor, wealthy saps could donate or help raise at least $353,400.)
Through the end of March, state parties have received less than 1 percent of that $61 million. The joint fund has in fact, transferred about $3.8 million to state parties... but almost none of that money stayed put. Nearly all of it has gone right through those parties' accounts and cycled right back to the Democratic National Committee.
There's this one little ethical problem with the Clinton-to-state-party-to-DNC trickle-up trick. Many of the donors to this special fund have already hit their donation limits to the national party, and wouldn't be able to give it another dollar this year — unless that money drops into the lap of a state party, which can then funnel this maxed-out donor's money right back to the DNC. <!————EndFragment————>
Here in Minnesota, cash has been vanishing faster than you can unlock the door on a Brink's truck.
For example, the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party received $43,500 from the victory fund on Nov. 2, only to transfer the same amount to the DNC that same day. The pattern repeated itself after the Minnesota party received transfers from the victory fund of $20,600 on Dec. 1 (the party sent the same amount to the DNC the next day) and $150,000 on Jan. 4 (it transferred the same amount to the DNC that day).This has led to some grumbling from party officials, whose names and states were kept out of the exposé to preserve their relationships with Clinton and the DNC. One person called the whole thing a "one-sided benefit" that tilts exclusively in the Clinton campaign's favor.
The same official adds: "I don’t think anyone wants to get crosswise with the national party because we do need their resources. But everyone who entered into these agreements was doing it because they were asked to, not because there are immediately clear benefits."
Bernie Sanders is doing a lot more than grumbling about all this. In a statement released following publication of Politico's story, Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver says the Clinton operation is "looting funds meant for the state campaigns to skirt fundraising limits on her presidential campaign."
Weaver continues, "You cannot exploit a broken campaign finance system one day and vow to get big money out of politics the next."
A spokesman for the Clinton campaign told Politico the joint fund had some $9 million — again, out of a total $61 million — earmarked for distribution to the state parties "over the coming months."
Maybe, after all this, you still want to donate to this fund. Or perhaps you want to take your issues with its conduct straight to the source. In either case, you'll need to know the name of this joint venture, ostensibly a system to use the Clinton campaign to help 32 state parties, including Minnesota's.
It's called the Hillary Victory Fund.