FEC Complaint: Bernie Breaking Federal Law by Employing Foreign National

Undocumented immigrant in key campaign role

Belén Sisa with Sen. Bernie Sanders / Facebook
March 22, 2019

The Bernie Sanders presidential campaign is violating federal election law by employing foreign nationals in advisory campaign positions, according to a newly filed complaint to the Federal Election Commission obtained exclusively by the Free Beacon.

The complaint points to the employment of three individuals, including Maria Belén Sisa, an illegal immigrant from Argentina who is in the United States under the protections of DACA and has been named deputy national press secretary for Bernie 2020. Sisa, who collected a salary from the Bernie 2016 campaign and also made financial contributions to it, recently made headlines when she questioned whether American Jews, including her own boss Sanders, were loyal to the United States.

Both the work for the campaign and contributions are "direct and serious violations" of federal election law, the complaint argues.

Foreign nationals are prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in the decision-making process of any person with regard to election-related activities, according to the FEC. Included in this group of foreign nationals are all immigrants not lawfully admitted as permanent residents.

The complaint, filed on Thursday afternoon by the Coolidge Reagan Foundation, argues that Sisa's current position on the campaign, due to its strategic nature, is a clear violation of this prohibition.

"Senator Sanders and Bernie 2020 is permitting a foreign national, Ms. Sisa, to serve in an advisory position which allows her to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to election-related activities in violation of FEC regulations," it argues.

The complaint also points to the 2016 campaign, which employed Sisa as well as two other foreign nationals, Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas, in advisory campaign positions, it says.

Like Sisa, both Vargas, the campaign's national Latino outreach strategist, and Andiola, its press secretary for Latino outreach, were salaried employees of Bernie 2016. They were also both well-known immigration activists open about their status as Mexican immigrants and DACA recipients.

"Due to the high profile of Cesar Vargas, Erika Andiola, and Maria Belén Sisa as leading activists in the undocumented community, there is reason to believe that respondents are 'foreign nationals' within the meaning of 52 U.S.C. § 301219b)(2), and in violation of 11 C.F.R. § 110.20 (i) and A.O. 2004-26, directly or indirectly participated in the decision-making process of persons with regard to the election-related activities of Bernie 2016," the complaint says.

"There is reason to believe, having previously employed Ms. Sisa, that Bernie 2020 is currently, and knowingly, permitting a 'foreign national' … to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to the election-related activities of Bernie 2020."

The complaint calls for an "immediate investigation" of both campaigns and for action to be taken to halt the violations.

"The Commission should determine and impose appropriate sanctions for any and all violations," it says. "Further, the Commission should enjoin respondents from any future violations and impose any necessary and appropriate remedies to ensure respondents' future compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act."

CRF Complaint to FEC on Ber... by on Scribd

Shaun McCutcheon, who filed the complaint for the Coolidge Reagan Foundation, said he expects any foreign nationals employed by the campaign to lose their job if the FEC finds it was in violation of the law.

"The involvement of foreigners, especially with all that went on during the 2016 election, can't be allowed in our elections," McCutcheon said.

The Sanders campaign paid a $14,500 fine to the FEC last year after it was caught accepting foreign contributions from the Australian Labor Party during the 2016 Democratic primary.

Former president Barack Obama's actions on DACA did not give recipients a path to obtaining permanent residence in the United States.

The Sanders campaign did not respond to request for comment on Sisa's immigration status.