Gaius Publius: Politico – Less than 1% of the Hillary Victory Fund Benefited State Parties

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Yves here. While I very much like this post, IMHO Gaius should have led with the fact “the Hillary Victory Fund, a PAC jointly controlled by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC” brazenly violates campaign finance rules. The noise about Sanders not “helping” the Democrats by raising state-level funds looks like a clever diversionary tactic. As Gaius explains, the individual donation limit si $2,700, and most big Clinton donors were tapped out. But the state-leve funds PAC (and PAC are supposed to be independent of the campaign) allow individuals to launder money vastly larger amounts to the Hillary machine.

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. Originally published at at Down With Tyranny. GP article here.

Cenk Uygur explains what everyone knows but no one like Chris Cuomo can say out loud. “Of course she’s corrupt. They’re all corrupt because the system is corrupt.” (Note: Cenk is way too kind to Cuomo in this clip, who’s not that dumb. He’s just well paid to appear so.)


According to Politico, of the $60 million raised by and for the Hillary Victory Fund, a PAC jointly controlled by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the DNC, less than 1% of the money raised ended up benefiting state Democratic parties.

Why does this matter? Because Clinton has been touting from day one, it seems, that she’s been raising money for the party as well as for herself, and the media, even after stories like this, by actor and activist Margot Kidder, started coming out, has been taking her at her word, allowing the assertion to go unchallenged, even when the facts were at hand.

I’ve been calling the Hillary Victory fund a “kickback scheme.” Others have called it money-laundering. Full explanation of how the transfers work is here.

Now Politico tells the tale, and includes some numbers to give you a sense of the scale of the operation and just how badly the state parties are getting screwed (my emphasis):

Clinton fundraising leaves little for state parties

The Democratic front-runner says she’s raising big checks to help state committees, but they’ve gotten to keep only 1 percent of the $60 million raised.

In the days before Hillary Clinton launched an unprecedented big-money fundraising vehicle with state parties last summer, she vowed “to rebuild our party from the ground up,” proclaiming “when our state parties are strong, we win. That’s what will happen.”

But less than 1 percent of the $61 million raised by that effort has stayed in the state parties’ coffers, according to a POLITICO analysis of the latest Federal Election Commission filings.

The venture, the Hillary Victory Fund, is a so-called joint fundraising committee comprised of Clinton’s presidential campaign, the Democratic National Committee and 32 state party committees. The set-up allows Clinton to solicit checks of $350,000 or more from her super-rich supporters at extravagant fundraisers including a dinner at George Clooney’s house and at a concert at Radio City Music Hall featuring Katy Perry and Elton John.

The 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, POLITICO’s analysis of the FEC records found.

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.

First, note the numbers. The scheme allowed each Clinton donor to circumvent limits on contributions to Clinton herself by donating also the Hillary Victory Fund (HVF), twice in fact, once in 2015 and again in 2016. Kidder explains that

a single donor, by giving 10,000 dollars a year to each signatory state could legally give an extra $330,000 a year for two years to the Hillary Victory Fund. For each donor, this raised their individual legal cap on the Presidential campaign to $660,000 if given in both 2015 and 2016. And to one million, three hundred and 20 thousand dollars if an equal amount were also donated in their spouse’s name.

From these large amounts of money being transferred from state coffers to the Hillary Victory Fund in Washington, the Clinton campaign got the first $2,700, the DNC was to get the next $33,400, and the remainder was to be split among the 33 signatory states. With this scheme, the Hillary Victory Fund raised over $26 million for the Clinton Campaign by the end of 2015.

But it never ended up working that way, and to all appearances, by design. As Politico explains above, the states almost immediately transferred nearly 100% — 88%, to be exact — of their portion back to the DNC.

Those George Clooney Fundraisers

A side note about the numbers. The original stories on HVF, the joint fundraising PAC, had 33 states involved. The above story (Politico) has just 32 states involved, implying that one state dropped out. No problem with that, and in fact it makes the George Clooney fundraiser numbers make sense.

Politico again, but a different story:

It will cost more than four times the average income in San Francisco to have dinner next to Hillary Clinton and the Clooneys there next month.

For two seats at the head table with Clinton, George Clooney and his wife, attorney Amal Clooney, at an April 15 fundraiser, a couple must contribute or raise a whopping $353,400 — a huge ticket price for a hard-dollar fundraiser….

On April 16, Clinton and the Clooneys will reunite at the Clooney Los Angeles mansion, where tickets cost $33,400 per person to dine at the table with one of Hollywood’s most glamorous couples.

As the story makes clear, the fundraisers are for the Hillary Victory Fund. For the second fundraiser, $33,400 is the amount that can be raised per individual, twice that per couple, “for the DNC” (allegedly) as part of an HVF donation. For the first fundraiser, $353,400 (an odd amount, right?) is the sum of $33,400 (“for the DNC”) plus $320,000, or $10,000 each for 32 state parties (who again, transfer back almost all of the money they “receive”).

Hillary Victory Fund in the Spotlight, Finally

Some have seen this as a problem for quite a while. As the original Politico story notes:

The arrangement has sparked concerns among campaign finance watchdogs and allies of Clinton’s Democratic rival Bernie Sanders. They see it as a circumvention of campaign contribution limits by a national party apparatus intent on doing whatever it takes to help Clinton defeat Sanders during the party’s primary, and then win the White House.

In other words, “money laundering” (Cory Doctorow’s term, quoted here) or, as I’ve been calling it, a kickback scheme.

What’s notable is that this is being noticed. Now even Rachel Maddow may have to acknowledge, the next time Clinton says to Maddow’s face that she’s “raising millions for the states and down-ticket races” (my paraphrase), that maybe a follow-up question is required. After all, this isn’t just Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver, or writers like Cory Doctorow and Margot Kidder, talking. This is Politico.

So consider for a moment, at the very point in this campaign that…

  • Clinton pivots to the general election and attacks Trump more than Sanders, and
  • Trump pivots to the general election and rolls out “crooked Hillary”

… Politico rolls out a “crooked Hillary (even if it’s legal)” story of its own. Politico legitimizes Trump’s attack. Game on.

Takeaways: First, the media won’t be as kind to Clinton in the general election as it was in the primary. I know, the primary’s still going on, but only in fact, not in the world of the media.

Second, as many including myself have noted, the free ride Clinton has been given by the press, including CNN and MSNBC (a network some in frustration have started calling “MSHRC”) — that free ride has allowed Clinton to operate in an atmosphere of never have been called out, of never having to clean up her act.

That free ride is ending, and Politico is the outlet that’s ending it. (Please do read the whole Politico piece; there much more dynamite in it than I can quote. If you can, go through it to the end.)

The Democratic Party Responds

Two final points, both from the article at the top of this piece. First, this isn’t a fake-leak story, as in, “People are pretending to be talking without permission so those who gave their permission can get their message out.” This story relies on real leaks, as in, “People who are talking to us are afraid of the price they’ll pay if we use their names.”

In this case, the leaks are coming from the state parties who are getting screwed:

But it is perhaps more notable that the arrangement has prompted concerns among some participating state party officials and their allies. 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.

“It’s a one-sided benefit,” said an official with one participating state party. The official, like those with several other state parties, declined to talk about the arrangement on the record for fear of drawing the ire of the DNC and the Clinton campaign.

Second, those state officials are being schooled by the DNC in the correct method of response:

In fact, the DNC, which has pushed back aggressively on charges that it is boosting Clinton at the expense of other Democrats, has advised state party officials on how to answer media inquiries about the arrangement, multiple sources familiar with the interactions told POLITICO.

“The DNC has given us some guidance on what they’re saying, but it’s not clear what we should be saying,” said the 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 states didn’t come up with this scheme, Clinton and the DNC did. And now it’s all coming out. Will it come out on CNN (and “MSHRC”) as well? That’s the next piece to watch for, now that Politico has given its permission and blessing.

And yes, you can bet this will be grist for the Trump machine’s mill.

Bad Judgment, Hubris or Never Saw the Sanders Movement Coming?

A thought from me. Clinton seems to be fraught with errors of her own making. Why on earth did she make those speeches after leaving the State Department, knowing that she would run, or at least, that running was one of the likely choices? Why do it? Greed? Bad judgement? Hubris? Or just the assumption that no one would call it out?

The same here, with this Hillary Victory Fund deception. Did Clinton and Wasserman Schultz never think this would be called out? Or did they think it would just be part of the background noise for most voters?

Or maybe she never saw coming a campaign that would say so clearly what only the whole country knows, but what would never be even whispered aloud by her bipartisan friends and the media. That the entire system is corrupt. That it needs taking down.

If no one speaks for the people, nothing will get publicly said. Sanders speaks for the people in the public arena for the first time in a generation. And no one in Clinton’s position perhaps, saw that coming, or figured out what an existential threat it would become.

Well, that existential threat is here, and it’s not going away. Bummer that, for some.

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  1. ArkansasAngie

    Come November I will make my selection based upon which candidate is most likely to cause a disruption in the political status quo.

    I can tell you right now I will not vote for HRC.

  2. Tom Stone

    It says a lot about the fear the Clinton machine engenders in the Party that none of these substantive issues have caused major figures in the Democratic to call for HRC to step aside
    I am an independent in CA and will not vote for HRC under any circumstances.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      The electeds are a different animal, but on a practical level, the Sanders campaign has demonstrated the Democratic underling class is virtually useless except as organ banks.

      DWS types will never move up in the world on their own merits. She was largely laughed at when she wanted to run for Senate for this cycle after her recruitment of prominent Republican Charlie Christmas to run for Governor, her loss of the Senate, and her efforts against Marijuana legalization. Without Hillary’s skirt to hide behind, Booker, Castro, Warner, DWS, Kaine, and anyone bandied about as a running mate wouldn’t have a chance in Iowa and New Hampshire at this point in their careers. They lack the fame of Obama and have records too gross to shroud in the fog of memory. Combined with the lack of legislative accomplishment, they need Hillary if they hope to be advanced.

  3. Brian in MA

    There is still time to nominate a Democratic candidate with high integrity. If the media, including the Clinton News Network and all of the Clinton surrogates employed therein start behaving like journalists, goodness may prevail.

  4. Pat

    I’m going to slightly disagree with Yves, although I also do not think the correct term was used. The moment I read of the set up, I called it money laundering. What I never got until this excerpt was why the states sent the money to the DNC immediately instead of only sending on some small percentage. Now I’m outright calling it fraud. The states NEVER apparently had control of the money. It was always controlled by the DNC and much of the reason for the state committees to enter into this agreement was fear, fear of retribution from the Clinton controlled National committee. As they never had control of the money, it was NEVER a donation to them. So it was both fraud and money laundering and a violation of campaign finance regulations.

    This is clearly, once again, the Clintons ignoring or twisting laws they find inconvenience them. And it is also going to be an indictment of the feckless FEC. Some things that should be happening. Fundraising for the Victory Fund should be shut down entirely for the time being . The amount of the funds raised by this should be seized back from the DNC and the Hillary Victory Fund. The directors behind this should be facing indictment. Those funds either held until a trial or two or returned to the states in their entirety with a ruling that they are not to send any money to the DNC or any Clinton campaign fund including PACs for the remainder of 2016 and never again more than ten percent raised in their name. But watch none of that will happen.

    1. Skip Intro

      Someone who contributed to that fund under false pretenses would presumably have legal standing to seek redress. I guess it depends on the fine print.

  5. Arizona Slim

    Bad Judgment, Hubris or Never Saw the Sanders Movement Coming?

    My money is on hubris.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Not long after Dean was elected DNC chair, he was on The Daily Show describing how the DNC would have canvasses go out to talk to voters all over the country well before the election season. Stewart gave his usual smug commentary, but can you imagine Democrats listening to voters and no just explaining how they have seen every episode of the West Wing and thus know what is best for voters?

      Even when I was a yellow dog Democrat, the contempt for the average voter was palpable from the democratic committee types. Oh, they would canvass every weekend, or more accurately visit safe households in their own neighborhood. They would assure everyone they talked to people who knew people like their hairdresser.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        That was my experience in the 1990s when I had some interaction with my Democratic Senator’s staff (Bryan, NV). Their demeanor was….. distinctive. Poorly veiled contempt, and a weak pretense of folksy ignorance. Their belief seemed to be: an individual constituent approaching them without a checkbook must be dumber than dirt. They were essentially right of course.

        It stays in ones mind however, doesn’t it?

        1. nat scientist

          For historical and first-party related reference, a California Republican party member who was with the California delegation that was present at the Kitchen Debate at the American Exposition in Moscow with Khruschev in July 1959 featuring VP Richard Nixon, related as how later in 1962. the same ex-VP Nixon looked at him like an idiot when he wasn’t seen bearing gifts before asking for a House of Representative endorsement for the local Republican candidate in 1962 election. The presumptive candidate died before election day and further disappointment with politics. I think this insouciance predates Julius Caesar. Shocked to find gambling going on in the casino, these boy scouts were, back in the day.

    2. Pat

      Can I pick 1. and 2. I don’t think you can discount bad judgment even if the principals are arrogant enough to think the law shouldn’t apply to them and never will.

    3. NotTimothyGeithner

      I recall an article where Hillary strategists convinced themselves Obama was a once in a lifetime politician instead of acknowledging the problems with Clinton Inc. which helped create Obama.

  6. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

    As usual, the lie (Bernie isn’t helping down-ballot candidates) was half way around the world before the truth could get its pants on.

    1. Arizona Slim

      And now the truth is fully dressed. It’s ready to rumble like the thunder!

    2. August West

      In reference to ifthethunderdontgetya…..”than the lightning will” Took long enough for this story to get legs. gawd.

    3. steelhead23

      Hey, Lois Lane pointed this out for all to see just over a month ago at CounterPunch. The problem it seems, is that Lex Luther Schultz dropped a chunk of Democratic Party kryptonite in SuperBernie’s shorts and he will not take shots at the Democratic Party, or Hillary’s hijinks. We need a better hero.

  7. Anne

    It’s a pattern, isn’t it? A pattern of one or the other or both Clintons thumbing their noses at the laws, rules, regulations, out of a sense that they are so smart and so valuable and so vital and so specially and singularly equipped to accomplish what no one else could possibly do as well as they can, that it is their duty – their sacred, patriotic duty – to do whatever it takes to make sure nothing stands in their way. Nothing. They will make you pay if you dare get in their way.

    They are above it all. It is a level of entitlement that depends on the assumption that we are all just blithering idiots who can be duped/fooled/snowed/bamboozled into believing whatever we are told. And, sad to say, there are apparently enough people who are that it’s been working for decades. The Clinton family has built a financial empire while most of the rest of us have struggled not to fall behind, and while many have vanished into the abyss.

    I don’t believe a word that comes out of the mouth of anyone named Clinton; how can I? Why should I? What’s in it for me?

    Oh, right: the Supreme Court. I have to be held hostage by someone who lies as easily as she breathes in order to save the country from the evil of a Court with a conservative majority.

    Please let this blow up in her face, now, before she dons in public the crown of the nomination that she probably sleeps in.

  8. ScottW

    Why did Hillary [fill in the blank]? Because she does what she wants to do and always gets away with it. It is reinforcing that her judgments are ultimately correct.

    Look at the private email server. It is undisputed a State Dept. Security Official warned her not to use her Blackberry in foreign countries because it is so easy to hack. She spread the message to her staff, but when Hillary went abroad, she used her Blackberry. As for the top secret documents and thousands of classified documents on her private server. . . . Her supporters incorrectly claim, everyone did it.

    If any government official did what Hillary did regarding her basement private email server, she would lose her security clearance forever. But as with everything Hillary–including taking hundreds of millions from special interests and not being influenced by any of that money (right)–she is special.

    Victimization played all the way to the White House.

    1. sinbad66

      If anyone else would had done what Hillary did, the DoJ would have thrown the library at them by now.

      “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”
      – George Orwell, Animal Farm

    2. Roger Smith

      When all else fails, the crazy conservatives made it up. It is all a conspiracy! No one else has been vetted as much as me!

  9. Left in Wisconsin

    I would not expect MSHRC (love that!) to promote, or even cover, any story not favorable to HRC. They don’t like Sanders but they go apoplectic re:Trump and I don’t believe the will make any exceptions for the truth.

    As far as Politico, I think I heard (here?) that two of the main honchos are out after the election. Could it be that they now feel somewhat less constrained in their reporting that the rest of the DC media?

  10. August West

    Was anyone watching MSHRC Chris Hayes interview with Jane Sanders last night? At the very end right before she got cut off she said she realizes that they(MSHRC) didn’t want Bernie to get elected but millions of people did. I wonder how these pundits really feel personally….. I would love to be a fly on the wall while their corporate overlords are telling them what to say. I have fantasies that one of them will just throw their papers in the air and say, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not gonna take it anymore”!!

    1. tegnost

      I’m kind of liking the idea of jane as first lady, doesn’t mind making people uncomfortable, my kind of girl…

      1. Code Name D

        No kidding. Bernie should have used her more on the campaign trail. They would have made one hell of a team.

        1. flora

          Bernie is still in the race and the race is closer that the MSM reports. So no need to use past tense verbs.

          1. nat scientist

            The Independents need a real possible candidate to get inspired, and was always so. Independents who don’t vote or won’t for Corporate-Socialists are greater than the Sum of the Paternal and Hierarchic Republicans and Obliged Democrats who trudge up the hill for fear of other-than moderate change and there is only one candidate for them to represent the alternative to Corporate-Socialism: the real deal Democratic Socialist, Candidate Sanders.
            At first it looked like Trump was invented to drive the Clinton vote, now it looks like Clinton was invented to shoe-in Trump, so why not trust the Independents to make a knockout; with the punch that came out of nowhere..trained as they are to stick to the paradigm that glues the hot mess together long enough to take a selfie.
            Will she close the (Presidents) Clinton Foundation for obvious conflicts of interest and access to State secrets conveying advantages at every point on the globe to paid staff? Trust Bill with your wife, not on my life.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          I see a repeat of the where’s Michelle Obama situtation. You have to be hungry to campaign. State legislators who lose despite a lack of scandals lose because they don’t want to flirt with every person they see. Jane seems nice, but if you aren’t hungry, there would be days when she would just want to not see anyone and watch trashy reality TV.

          Candidate spouses might be great, a species of social primate in a state of arrested development are surprisingly friendly in person, but if you aren’t a people person or maybe psychopath, you can’t do it. “Oh my god, you stink. Did you waste money on that perfume? Please, let that smell be bad perfume.” How often does the candidate want to say this? A spouse isn’t a candidate.

  11. flora

    ” includes some numbers to give you a sense of the scale of the operation and just how badly the state parties are getting screwed …”

    Is there anything the Clintons haven’t screwed made use of in their fight for the greater cause (themselves being the greater cause)?

  12. Ishmael

    Greed? Bad judgement? Hubris? — Yes, especially the Bad Judgement part. She has shown it most of her adult life, why would you expect her to change.

    A few years ago the ex-editor for the LA Times was over for dinner. Being my usual graceful self to a dinner quest I asked her why she would allow the LA Times (another version of the MSHRC) to lie about facts. After a quiet second she said, I wanted to keep my job!

  13. jhallc

    From the FT article in todays Links, “Hillary Clinton outraises Bernie Sanders in April” discusses how HRC is supporting the states and locals with the Hillary Victory Fund. No mention of how the money is split! Just bad reporting or deliberate. I also wonder how much money Hillary raised in 2008 after Obama started winning the delegate count. 24 million dollars for Bernie is still a big number.

    1. Ishmael

      It is my recollection that in 2008 Hillary’s campaign ended up in the hole and she had to get her little tin cup after the election and go around raising money. Heaven forbid if the Clintons shelled out any of their own money to pay their debts.

      1. tegnost

        yep, lamberts example applies here, I’ll loan you a hundred thousand, then give a job that pays two hundred thousand so you can pay me back (paraphrased)

    2. Waldenpond

      NPR yesterday also. First Margot Kidder, then on NBC next on Politico. So I checked an aggregator (memeorandum) and the sub-articles were on other election issues and NPR was on C fundraising.

  14. armchair

    It is starting to look like Clinton is a serious liability. Clinton is doing a terrible job of bringing in Sanders voters. The Rovian thing was to attack a candidate’s biggest strength, like Kerry’s war record. This is next level. Attack the other candidate for your biggest weakness. You’re vacuuming up all of the party’s money, so you attack the small donor guy for that problem. Maybe it’s brilliant, but it’s definitely gross. Slimy gross. Maybe Trump is too much of a misogynist and a racist to be a credible threat in November, but Clinton may self-destruct before then.

  15. Waldenpond

    [Why on earth did she make those speeches after leaving the State Department, knowing that she would run, or at least, that running was one of the likely choices? Why do it? Greed? Bad judgement? Hubris? Or just the assumption that no one would call it out?]

    Isn’t another talking point that everyone is doing it? The personal speech money is very in your face and so is the blatant laundering but I was surprised at the number of politicians running money through foundations.

  16. perpetualWAR


    Hillary Inc., can violate campaign funding laws, can violate laws surrounding protection of state secrets, yet with all this law-breaking, still obtain the candidacy for President from the DNC?

    Who’s gonna officially declare the DNC done, caput, over???

  17. participant-observer-observed

    Need to leverage this to flip the super-delegates, at least in the 13 Sanders landslide states.

  18. participant-observer-observed

    Legalized corruption…same excuse as the banksters for mortgage fraud.

    Walks like a duck, talks like a duck …

  19. participant-observer-observed

    Meanwhile…80%+ WA delegates are now for Sanders, apparently because HRC people can’t be bothered to show up to caucus, as has happened in NV and MO.

    1. RP

      It is one thing to be cajoled into pulling the lever against the greater evil, it is another thing altogether to actually put time and effort into getting tone deaf elitist the delegates necessary to screw you over once pandertime us over.

  20. gabriela kaplan

    Hillary and Trump claim Bernie is a “Socialist” . These nations are “Socialist”: Switzerland, Sweden, France, Germany etc. members of developed nations OECD The USA is # 25 behind them, because the 1% Tump , Hillary and republicans are destroying us. Now, in USA 1 out of every 5 children go to bed hungry. These “socialist nations” never allow their people to live in squalor. BERNIE would never allow this.

  21. Skip Intro

    How long will all those super delegates stay bought, when everyone realizes they were played for suckers, and the check didn’t even come through?

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