The emails of John Podesta, the Clinton family chief of staff, as released by Wikileaks are a treasure trove worthy of bathing in if an investigative reporter were suddenly transformed into Scrooge McDuck. Kevin Gosztola of Shadowproof pointed out one gem on twitter with a simple “Isn't this illegal?” Gosztola's instincts were in fact correct. What he found is very likely to be illegal.
It is a simple set of quotes in an email exchange on July 15 2015 between Podesta, Hillary Clinton, Clinton's Campaign Manager Robby Mook. Huma Abedin, former Deputy Chief of Staff for Clinton when she was Secretary of State and current Campaign Vice Chair was copied in the exchange. The exchange was brief and to the point.
First Mook asked a followup question after a conference call “I wanted to get your blessing to move forward with the DNC joint account. We didn't get a chance to cover that on our call. I'm obviously happy to have a conversation about it if you want--or move forward. I'm happy with the arrangement and believe it's important to our money and operational strategies.”
Clinton replied with a terse “I'm fine w the TV and go ahead w DNC. Thx.” That was all it took to move forward with a joint bank account between the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Not much can be known about this account. The legality of such an arrangement is suspect. A quick contact to my former editor and election law specialist Bob Fitrakis on the legality produced a more questions. In the end we agreed on the phrase “Highly Unusual and probably illegal.” No party has been actually caught commingling party funds with candidate funds in the past.
There is no way to tell which way or ways the money flowed to and from the account. It is not clear if the Democratic National Committee was illegally giving money to Clinton's campaign, or one of her SuperPacs, or if the Clinton Campaign or SuperPacs were giving money to the DNC.
When a candidate receives funds from a PAC of another candidate or from their party, as Columbus Mayor Andy Ginther does, those monies are listed in their campaign finance reports. Ginther, for instance, routinely launders money for the national party by receiving $5000 checks and then issuing $5000 checks back the next day.
If the money was flowing from the DNC to the Clinton Campaign, it began doing so in July of 2015. This was before Clinton was the nominee. Bernie Sanders announced his candidacy on April 30 2015. Thus if the money flowed from the DNC to the Clinton Campaign the DNC was directly financing her run against Sanders and all the other so-called contenders.
If the money was flowing from the Clinton Campaign to the DNC it could have been used to support down ticket candidates for Representative or Senator or Governor or even Mayor of Columbus. If these candidates were incumbents they would also be Superdelegates. Thus money was available to pay for the loyalty of superdelegates during the convention to lock up Clinton's nomination. In short, campaign financing used to bribe a win in the primaries.
It is not clear which cash flow direction made Robby Mook “ happy with the arrangement” or which direction he found to be “important to our money and operational strategies.” It may well have been that cash flowed in both directions and both directions were important to Clinton's operational strategy at different times.
The Sanders campaign no longer exists. Although it has been clear for some time that the party establishment was actively working against him. Media strategies were directly coordinated between the Clinton Campaign and CNN as we reported in July. The Outsider News in San Francisco noted the data breech between the Clinton and Sanders campaign had the fingerprints of a Clinton insider all over it.
These revelations are of a different nature. The difference between a revolving door for personell and the DNC, Clinton Campaign, CNN and the White House is a persistent undemocratic fact of the insider nature of beltway politics in the Democratic Party. Commingling of campaign funds is different. While Clinton was receiving $250,000 per speech from the biggest banks in the country, that money was being used to finance her chosen loyal followers in Congress in return for support against the insurgent left wing of the party. This would not even be the first campaign finance law to have been broken.
This commingling of campaign funds shows a clear favoritism on the part of the Democratic National Committee. The email chain did not discuss this as a possibility or even make any reference to the DNC having the option to not engage in this likely illegal course of action. This email, in and by itself, show that Hillary Clinton is the head of the party as well as the presumptive president in a governmental structure that currently closely mirrors that of the former Soviet Union.