Hillary Clinton, DNC Fundraising Coalition Gives Sliver of Cash to State Parties

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton / AP
May 2, 2016

A mere 1 percent of the $61 million Hillary Clinton has raised in alliance with the Democratic National Committee has funneled to state party committees despite the presidential hopeful’s promise that her fundraising efforts would strengthen the left locally.

Politico, citing analysis of Federal Election Commission filings, reported Monday that the joint fundraising committee, Hillary Victory Fund, initially sent $3.8 million to state parties but then transferred $3.3 million—88 percent of the cash—directly to the DNC.

The group meanwhile poured $15.4 million into Clinton’s presidential campaign with another $5.7 going toward the DNC. The committee’s chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz endorsed Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid.

The victory fund is a coalition made up of Clinton’s campaign, the DNC, and 32 state party committees. It enables the former secretary of state to accept checks worth $350,000 or more during fundraising events.

Politico reported:

Most of the $23.3 million spent directly by the victory fund has gone towards expenses that appear to have directly benefited Clinton’s campaign, including $2.8 million for "salary and overhead" and $8.6 million for web advertising that mostly looks indistinguishable from Clinton campaign ads and that has helped Clinton build a network of small donors who will be critical in a general election expected to cost each side well in excess of $1 billion.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I, Vt.) last month accused Clinton of violating campaign finance laws through its joint fundraising alliance.

In a letter addressed to Schultz, the Sanders campaign said the victory fund was being "exploited" to favor Clinton’s presidential bid.

"It is of growing concern that the Clinton joint fundraising committee appears to be using funds raised by ‘big dollar’ donors to fund activities that yield contributions and support that only provide benefit only to [Hillary for America]," the campaign wrote.

They noted that $7.8 million contributed to the victory fund has gone toward direct mail strategies while over $8.6 million has funneled into online advertising, "both of which appear to benefit only HFA" rather than the DNC or state party committees.

ABC News reported last month that FEC rules allow "two or more political committees" to co-fundraise, but require the parties to "divide the money raised from a fundraiser" using an "agreed upon allocation formula." If that formula leads to "excessive contribution for either party involved, the excessive portion has to be split among the other participants."

The Sanders campaign has criticized the victory fund of sidestepping campaign contribution limits by a national party "intend on doing whatever it takes to help Clinton defeat" the self-described Democratic socialist in the primary election, Politico noted.

Officials working with state parties involved in the victory fund have also lamented that the coalition solely benefits Clinton rather than local Democratic groups.

"Everyone who entered into these agreements was doing it because they were asked to, not because there are immediately clear benefits," one official told Politico.