ActBlue Fined for Facilitating Nearly $44,000 in Illegal Contributions

FEC headquarters / Getty Images
March 8, 2021

ActBlue, a top platform for Democratic political contributions, was penalized for funneling $44,000 in illegal contributions.

The Federal Election Commission slapped a $3,300 fine on the fundraising platform for facilitating excessive contributions during the 2020 cycle. The excess cash came from 19 individual donors and was "not refunded, reattributed, or transferred to the non-federal account within the permissible timeframe," according to documents.

During the 2020 cycle, donors were bound by $2,800 contribution limits to a federal candidate and $5,000 contribution limits to a PAC per election; any amount from a donor over those limits was deemed excessive. Deborah Simon, a top Democratic funder, and Jim Offield, heir to the Wrigley gum fortune, were among the listed donors in the FEC's internal referral for violation against ActBlue who had given excessive amounts through the fundraising portal.

Andrew Woodson, a partner at Wiley Rein who focuses on political law, says the FEC settles on a penalty that represents a percentage of the total amount of excessive contributions. "In recent matters, that amount is generally in the 5-10 percent range," said Woodson. "The recent enforcement matters against ActBlue and others shows that the Commission is making progress through its substantial backlog of enforcement cases."

ActBlue's treasurer did not respond to a request for comment on the violation.

This was not the first time ActBlue has been fined by the FEC. The fundraising platform was previously hit with a $12,000 penalty for failing to be in "substantial compliance" with the Federal Election Campaign Act. Despite the violations, ActBlue has filed FEC complaints against Republican groups, including the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The liberal platform has faced increased scrutiny in recent years. Earlier this month, a legal group accused ActBlue of potentially violating U.S. anti-terrorism laws by facilitating payments to an anti-Israel group tied to multiple terror organizations.