When the Democratic National Committee announced its $32 million fundraising haul last month, it touted the result as evidence of “energy and excitement” for Hillary Clinton’s nomination for the White House and other races down the ballot. The influx of money, however, also owes in part to an unprecedented workaround of political spending limits that lets the party tap into millions of dollars more from Clinton’s wealthiest donors.
At least $7.3 million of the DNC’s July total originated with payments from hundreds of major donors who had already contributed the maximum $33,400 to the national committee, a review of Federal Election Commission filings shows. The contributions, many of which were made months earlier, were first bundled by the Hillary Victory Fund and then transferred to the state Democratic parties, which effectively stripped the donors’ names and sent the money to the DNC as a lump sum.
Of the transfers that state parties made to the DNC for which donor information was available, an overwhelming proportion came from contributions from maxed-out donors: On average, 83 percent of the money that was sent from the state committees to the DNC in July originated with a donor who had already given the maximum $33,400 to the national party.
“I’m not aware of any case law or regulations that would prohibit a state party from transferring to a national party committee funds raised through a joint fundraising committee,” Robert Kelner, an election law expert at Covington & Burling said. “But as a practical matter, it does appear that the DNC may be using Hillary Victory Fund as a mechanism for allowing donors to give more to the DNC indirectly than would otherwise be permitted directly.”