Campaign Legal Center Accuses de Blasio Campaign of Finance Violations

August 9, 2019 by Dan McCue
Mayor Bill De Blasio arrives to a Green New Deal rally At Trump Tower in New York City on May 13, 2019. (Yana Paskova/Getty Images/TNS)

The Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission Wednesday accusing the presidential campaign of New York Mayor Bill De Blasio and two PACs of violating federal law by arranging for a small number of wealthy donors to skirt contribution limits.

In its complaint, the nonpartisan watchdog claims at least 25 donors who gave the legal maximum of $2,800 to de Blasio’s campaign have also given $5,000 to a federal committee, Fairness PAC, and a state committee, NY Fairness PAC, which spent money laying the groundwork for the mayor’s presidential run.

“The de Blasio campaign appears to have concocted a shell game to arrange for a small number of wealthy donors to illegally support de Blasio’s presidential run above and beyond legal contribution limits,” said Brendan Fischer, director, federal reform at CLC. “Contribution limits are designed to prevent corruption. Presidential candidates cannot lay the groundwork for their campaign by accepting contributions nearly 300% in excess of federal limits.”

The CLC says Fairness PAC and NY Fairness PAC paid for hundreds of thousands of dollars in staff, polling, and travel to early primary states in the months before de Blasio formally announced his candidacy.

By law, de Blasio 2020 was then required to report those testing-the-waters expenditures on its first report, as well as the contributors who had paid for them.

However, de Blasio 2020’s first report, filed last month, reported some of the testing-the-waters expenditures paid for by the two PACs, but failed to report any of the contributors.

CLC’s analysis of the de Blasio 2020, Fairness PAC, and NY Fairness PAC campaign finance reports showed that at least 25 donors had exceeded legal limits by nearly 300%.  

The De Blasio campaign did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

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