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FEC Fines Clinton Campaign and DNC

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Hillary Clinton | Image by Michael Stravato

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The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) announced that it would be levying fines against Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Presidential Campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) after an investigation revealed that the campaign misrepresented the use of certain funds on campaign finance disclosure documents.

The law requires that political candidates and groups publicly disclose their spending to the FEC, and they must accurately explain the purpose of any specific expenditure of more than $200.


The FEC determined that the Clinton Campaign and the DNC misrepresented the money they sent to the law firm Perkins Coie. The firm funneled the money to Fusion GPS, who then hired British ex-spy Christopher Steele to complete the infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Perkins Coie previously acknowledged the arrangement in a letter sent to Fusion in 2017 that media outlets published.

In disclosure forms, the Clinton campaign noted that it paid $175,000 to Perkins Coie in mid-2016 for what it described as “legal services.” The DNC paid $849,407 to the law firm at roughly the same time for what it described as “legal and compliance consulting.”

A complaint about the matter was filed to the FEC by the Coolidge Reagan Foundation, a self-described First Amendment watchdog organization. Their complaint alleges that the Hillary for America (HFA) campaign and the DNC intentionally funneled the money through Perkins Coie to shield their conduct.

“By intentionally obscuring their payments through Perkins Coie and failing to publicly disclose the true purpose of those payments, HFA and the DNC were able to avoid publicly reporting on their statutorily required FEC disclosure forms the fact that they were paying Fusion GPS to perform opposition research on Trump with the intent of influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election,” Section 13 of the complaint states.

The foundation released the FEC’s determination on March 30, before the agency revealed any documents. The FEC found probable cause that the payments were misrepresented, and fined the DNC $105,000, while the Clinton campaign received a fine of $8,000. According to the FEC’s determination, the Clinton campaign and the DNC never conceded that they violated campaign finance laws, but they agreed to accept the civil fines.

A DNC spokesman told CNN that it had “settled aging and silly” FEC complaints regarding the 2016 presidential election.

The DNC has previously said that they did not know about the arrangement between Perkins Coie and Fusion.

Brian Fallon, a former spokesman for the Clinton campaign, said he wished he was aware because he would have volunteered to help Steele. Fallon also said that Clinton “may have known” about the research, but “the degree of exactly what she knew is beyond my knowledge.”

The dossier contained several salacious allegations against former President Trump and alleged ties between his campaign and the Russian government. The allegations were never proven yet dominated public discourse for much of his time in office. Many of the details in the dossier were debunked by federal officials, including Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz.

“This may well be the first time that Hillary Clinton — evidently one of the most corrupt politicians in American history — has actually been held legally accountable, and I’m proud to see the FEC do its job for once,” Dan Backer, counsel for the Coolidge Reagan Foundation, said in a statement. “Let’s hope this is only the beginning for accountability, not the end.”

The FEC also determined that others it investigated did not violate federal laws. Steele, Fusion GPS, Perkins Coie, and former Perkins Coie attorney Marc Elias were all cleared by the FEC.

Former President Trump has filed a lawsuit against Hillary Clinton and others involved in the dossier seeking reimbursement for legal fees related to the Trump-Russia investigation conducted by former Special Counsel Robert Mueller.      

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