Unusual Clinton Payments to DNC Create Conflict of Interest

By comparison, President Barack Obama didn’t create a revenue-sharing agreement with the DNC until June 2008 after he had secured enough primary votes to be the Democratic nominee. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney didn’t enter into a partnership with the Republican National Committee until April 2012, the month the RNC declared him its presumptive nominee.

A search of federal records showed no previous examples of national parties historically entering into agreements with someone who wasn’t ultimately the nominee.

While the move on one hand indicates that Clinton believes that she is already the de facto nominee and the competition from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley is essentially a show, it may also provide an explanation for the behavior of DNC Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Wasserman Schultz has been criticized by Democrats who claim she has favored Clinton by refusing to hold more than six debates, seemingly giving voters little opportunity to be introduced to Clinton alternatives. Republicans have 11 debates scheduled.

The Huffington Post reported shortly after the fundraising committee’s inception that it was “out of the ordinary,” but no one has so far connected the fund’s existence with the favoritism the party’s referees have seemingly showed to Clinton.

The rift busted wide open last month with the Sanders campaign filing a lawsuit against the DNC, saying the party was showing preference to Clinton, after it barred Sanders from accessing party data. The Vermont senator’s aides saw data intended for Clinton due to a vendor error. The DNC maintains data that is essential to its candidates for campaigning.

“We directed NGP VAN to suspend the Sanders campaign’s access to the system until the DNC is provided with a full accounting of whether or not this information was used and the way in which it was disposed,” Wasserman Shultz wrote. The Sanders staffer who looked at the data was recommended to the campaign for hiring by DNC staff.

Sanders’ lawsuit said the ban was “unwarranted” and “unilateral” and broke the contract, under which it was supposed to have 10 days written notice to fix any problems.

The third and most recent debate took place six days before Christmas, when most Americans were more concerned with their holiday plans than politics.

Sanders said a bad date was intentionally picked by DNC officials to help ensure Clinton’s nomination. “I think there is a desire on the part of the DNC to protect Secretary Clinton,” he told an ABC affiliate.

“In Iowa, do you know when the debate was held?” Sanders said, referring to the prior debate. “It was the night of the big football game in Iowa. Do you think that’s a coincidence?”

The timing of Clinton’s deal with the DNC coupled with a new Supreme Court ruling, McCutcheon v. FEC, positions her to be the biggest campaign “bundler” of all time.

The court ruling says that individuals can give $666,000 each to politicians per cycle, instead of the previous limit of $123,000. Donors who give to the joint fundraising committee are part of the “one percent,” as the reason for the fund’s existence is to provide an overflow valve so that donors can give more than they can legally contribute to the campaign itself.

The money Clinton sent has sent to the DNC so far comes from a who’s who of major industries, such as $33,400 from Charif Souki, CEO of Cheniere Energy, and the same amount from Deven Parekh, managing director of Insight Venture Partners, a private equity firm.

Bundlers are middlemen who collect contributions from wealthy donors and deliver them to another group, getting personal credit in the process. Clinton and other Democrats routinely cast Republicans as beholden to special interests by reason of having accepted money from wealthy individuals.

Strangely, on Nov. 20, the Sanders campaign created its own joint fundraising committee. But because Sanders does not have a base of wealthy supporters, it is unlikely that it has raised much money for the party, if any–tensions between him and the party aside. The Sanders effort has not yet filed any fundraising reports.

The Sanders campaign would not tell the Daily Caller News Foundation whether the DNC pressured it to create its own joint fundraising committee to establish the appearance of parity. The DNC did not immediately say what factors went into agreeing to the arrangement, or how it was ensuring it a neutral role, such as any conflict of interest provisions.

The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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