Hillary Clinton's use of a so-called joint fundraising committee, through which her presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and 32 state party committees can solicit big-money donors, is under fire not just from rival Bernie Sanders, but also from state party officials and their allies, according to reporting by Politico.
Politico's deep dive into the latest Federal Election Commission filings, published Monday, shows that the Hillary Victory Fund "has transferred $3.8 million to the state parties, but almost all of that cash ($3.3 million, or 88 percent) was quickly transferred to the DNC, usually within a day or two, by the Clinton staffer who controls the committee."
The analysis continues:
By contrast, the victory fund has transferred $15.4 million to Clinton’s campaign and $5.7 million to the DNC, which will work closely with Clinton’s campaign if and when she becomes the party’s nominee. And most of the $23.3 million spent directly by the victory fund has gone towards expenses that appear to have directly benefited Clinton’s campaign, including $2.8 million for “salary and overhead” and $8.6 million for web advertising that mostly looks indistinguishable from Clinton campaign ads and that has helped Clinton build a network of small donors who will be critical in a general election expected to cost each side well in excess of $1 billion.
Unsurprisingly the arrangement is ruffling more than a few feathers, notably "among some participating state party officials and their allies," according to Politico reporters Kenneth P. Vogel and Isaac Arnsdorf. "They grumble privately that Clinton is merely using them to subsidize her own operation, while her allies overstate her support for their parties and knock Sanders for not doing enough to help the party."
Indeed, an official with one participating state party—who asked to remain anonymous "for fear of drawing the ire of the DNC and the Clinton campaign"—told Politico: "It's a one-sided benefit."
What's more, multiple sources told Politico that the DNC has in fact "advised state party officials on how to answer media inquiries about the arrangement."
"The DNC has given us some guidance on what they're saying, but it's not clear what we should be saying," said the anonymous official. "I don’t think anyone wants to get crosswise with the national party because we do need their resources. But everyone who entered into these agreements was doing it because they were asked to, not because there are immediately clear benefits."
The Sanders campaign sent an open letter last month to DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, decrying how the fundraising arrangement had been exploited in Clinton's favor.
On Monday, citing the new reporting by Politico, campaign manager Jeff Weaver doubled down on that critique, lambasting the Clinton campaign for "looting funds meant for the state parties to skirt fundraising limits on her presidential campaign."
"Secretary Clinton has exploited the rules in ways that let her high-dollar donors like Alice Walton of Wal-Mart fame and the actor George Clooney and his super-rich Hollywood friends skirt legal limits on campaign contributions," Weaver said. "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?"