Bernie Sanders’ campaign has touched off a fiery dispute with the Hillary Clinton camp after accusing her Monday of possibly breaking campaign-finance laws through a joint-fundraising account with the Democratic National Committee.
The Sanders campaign alleged that the Hillary Victory Fund -- which raises money for the Clinton campaign, the DNC and 32 state Democratic committees -- "skirts legal limits on federal campaign donations."
The accusation of "apparent violations" -- the campaign's latest attempt to tie Clinton to big-money donors -- was made in an open letter Monday from Sanders campaign lawyer Brad Deutsch to DNC Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, of Florida.
Deutsch raised concerns about the Hillary Victory Fund reportedly receiving individual contributions of $354,400 or more, which far exceed the $2,700 limit on campaign contributions.
He wrote that the campaign was “particularly concerned” about such contributions appearing to have been used to pay for $16.4 million in advertising and solicitations for the Clinton campaign, Hillary for America, “rather than to the DNC or any of the participating state party committees.”
The letter also complained that the joint committee paid the Clinton campaign committee $2.6 million to "reimburse" staffers for time spent running the joint committee. The letter follow a big weekend of Clinton fundraisers including events in San Francisco and Los Angeles where some attendees could pay up to $353,000 to sit at a table with host George Clooney.
The Clinton campaign, though, hit back, calling Sanders' attacks "irresponsible" and "misleading" -- and describing their own fundraising with the DNC as above-board.
On a conference call, campaign manager Robby Mook said Sanders also started a joint account with the DNC, but opted not to raise money for it.
"The Sanders campaign's false attacks have gotten out of hand,” Mook said in a statement. “As Senator Sanders faces nearly insurmountable odds, he is resorting to baseless accusations of illegal actions and poisoning the well for Democratic candidates up and down the ticket.”
Sanders repeatedly has attacked Clinton for her connections to Wall Street and other high-dollar donors, while touting that his insurgent campaign has challenged Clinton and the entire Democratic establishment largely with individual, small-dollar contributions.
The Sanders campaign followed the letter to Wasserman-Schultz with a fundraising email that in part stated:
“The Clinton campaign is bending campaign finance rules to their breaking point all so Wall Street fat cats … can contribute 130 times the legal limit to support her campaign. … Contribute $2.70 to Bernie’s campaign today … as a way of saying you have had enough of the way Hillary Clinton’s campaign is funding its campaign and super PAC.”