Presidential Primaries

Sanders camp says Clinton ‘looting’ fundraising money meant for states

Peter Doocy reports from Clarksville


The Bernie Sanders campaign is accusing Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton of “looting” money from a joint account meant in part for state parties, the latest brawl between the camps over precious fundraising dollars in the closing weeks of their primary race.

The dispute is over the Hillary Victory Fund, established by Clinton last summer and comprising her presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee and 32 state party committees.

The joint effort so far has raised $61 million, but only 1 percent ultimately stayed in state party accounts, according to an analysis by Politico of federal election records.

The analysis, which was challenged by the Clinton campaign, said the fund had transferred $3.8 million to the state parties, then quickly transferred $3.3 million of the money to the DNC.

Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver said the transfers are tantamount to money “laundering” and suggested Clinton is “looting” the state party coffers to side-step campaign finance laws.

“The Clinton campaign should let the state parties keep their fair share of the cash,” Weaver said in a statement Monday, ahead of the Indiana primary on Tuesday. “If Secretary Clinton can’t raise the funds needed to run in a competitive primary without resorting to laundering, how will she compete against Donald Trump in a general election?”

He also said the fund setup allows Clinton to “skirt” fundraising limits on her presidential campaign, because it lets her solicit donations of $350,000 or more from wealthy backers.

The Clinton campaign has responded to the accusations, saying they raised closer to $46 million and roughly $4.5 million already has been transferred to state parties, with an additional $9 million to be distributed in the coming months as state parties prepare for the general election. 

“Helping Democrats win up and down the ballot is a top priority for Hillary Clinton,” said Hillary for America campaign spokesman Josh Schwerin.

He said the money is already being used to staff operations in battleground states Ohio, Florida, Virginia and beyond, including registering voters, recruiting volunteers and boosting get-out-the-vote efforts.

Schwerin also said the operations are being run jointly by the DNC and state parties “to elect progressives across the country in November." 

To be sure, raising money may become more challenging as the campaigns drag on -- and when the prevailing candidate shifts to a general election battle.  

The Sanders campaign, for example, reportedly raised $25.8 million in April, down from $44 million in March and $43.5 million in February. Clinton reportedly raised $26.4 million last month.

The Sanders campaign signed a similar joint-fundraising agreement with the DNC that appears largely inactive. However, he has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through his donor list for several progressive House candidates, according to Politico.

This is not the first time the Sanders campaign has accused the Clinton camp of fundraising shenanigans.  

Last month, the campaign sent an open letter to the DNC accusing the Clinton campaign of "apparent violations" in fundraising.

The campaign raised concerns about the victory fund reportedly receiving individual contributions of $354,400 or more, because they far exceed the $2,700 limit on campaign contributions. Another concern was such contributions appearing to have been used to pay for $16.4 million in advertising and solicitations for Hillary for America, rather than for the DNC or any state party committees.

Fox News' Tamara Gitt contributed to this report