July 10, 2024

Court rules liberal super PAC and Clinton 2016 campaign crossed spending lines

Recent developments make it clear that former President Donald Trump isn't the only one who could be brought before a court for campaign finance violations, as outlined in a report by The Washington Examiner.

Earlier this week, a federal appeals court ruled that the 2016 campaign of Hillary Clinton and a liberal super PAC violated federal election laws by publicly displaying their coordination in a multimillion-dollar endeavor to support Clinton during her unsuccessful campaign against Donald Trump.

Clinton and the super PAC Correct the Record were found to have violated other restrictions by creating a "Benghazi Hearing War Room" and engaging in a witch hunt of critics without disclosing the funding as a campaign expense, according to the historic ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The 36-page ruling determined that the Federal Election Commission should have investigated a complaint over the expenditure, but neither Clinton nor Correct the Record founder David Brock would face punishment as a result. Regarding the exemption, it sent the matter to the FEC for resolution.

From the Ruling

“We hold that the Commission acted contrary to law in dismissing the complaint. Because we conclude that the internet exemption cannot be read to exempt from disclosure those expenditures that are only tangentially related to an eventual internet message or post, the Commission’s reading of the internet exemption stretches it beyond lawful limits,” the court said.

In an interview with Secrets, the Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, Sean Cooksey, stated that the commission has accepted the decision of the court and that he will continue to advocate for a "robust" exemption for political activities that take place online.

“Following the D.C. Circuit’s decision today, my colleagues and I will carefully review the court’s opinion and consider next steps, including whether to seek review in the Supreme Court.

"Regardless, I will continue to fight for internet freedom at the FEC and a robust regulatory exemption for political activities online, consistent with the law,” he said.

From the Case

This all started during Brock's 2016 campaign when he announced to the press that he would be coordinating with Hillary Clinton's team. The regulations prohibiting PAC and candidate coordination seemed to be violated by that move, something that wasn't explored by prosecutors till now.

However, the organization argued that it would use an FEC "internet exemption" from 2006 to circumvent the law because it planned to conduct its operations online.

Brock overstepped his bounds, according to the appeals court, and Clinton's campaign ought to have reported the expenditure as a contribution.

Court records show that Brock's group spent $5.95 million while evading taxes by using the "internet exception," a loophole meant to shield anonymous political speech and small donations from taxation.

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