Doesn’t it seem like the media has been digging into every single donation, travel expense log and petty cash slip in the country since Donald Trump won the 2016 election? If that’s the case, how did it take so long for this story to bubble to the surface? Rosie O’Donnell is on television constantly and she’s all over social media, but there’s something else she was “over” on multiple occasions. Campaign finance law donation limits. Turns out that she’s given until it hurts and then some, but you probably won’t be too shocked to find out the recipients of her overly-large largess were all Democrats. (NY Post)
Rosie O’Donnell made illegally over-sized campaign donations to at least five Democratic federal candidates, according to a Post analysis of campaign filings.
The liberal comedian has regularly broken Federal Election Commission rules limiting the total any one person can give to an individual candidate at $2,700 per election. The limit applies separately to primaries, runoffs and general elections…
Alabama Sen. Doug Jones disclosed $4,700 from O’Donnell in his special general election bid last year against former GOP judge and accused child molester Roy Moore, his campaign filings show. Jones’ office didn’t return messages seeking comment.
It wasn’t just Doug Jones. Conor Lamb got $3,600 ($900 over the limit) for his general election bid in Pennsylvania. Adam Schiff, the consistent Trump critic received $2,950, which seems like a really strange number to pull out of thin air when the limit is 2,700. A few other, lesser-known Democrats cashed in for similarly excessive amounts.
So what does O’Donnell have to say for herself? Not much, really. She feels she didn’t do anything wrong because she had no idea about the limits and assumed that someone else would take care of all those silly technicalities.
“Nothing nefarious,” the outspoken star and Donald Trump arch-nemesis wrote in an email to the Post. “I was not choosing to over donate.
“If 2700 is the cut off — [candidates] should refund the money,” she wrote. “I don’t look to see who I can donate most to … I just donate assuming they do not accept what is over the limit.”…
She said she assumed ActBlue “limits donations to the max allowed.”
She added, “I keep donating” and that her brother Tim handles her money.
O’Donnell is half correct. The candidates who accept the money are responsible for complying with campaign finance laws, but the donor is as well. She says she uses the liberal ActBlue site for channeling her donations but I’m honestly not sure what their liability would be. So what will happen to O’Donnell in light of all that? Under normal circumstances, probably nothing. People who simply make too large of a donation through ignorance or carelessness would normally be allowed to shift the money to a different race or even just take it back as a refund and get off with a warning. But was that really the case here?
Let’s look a little more closely at this portion of the Post report. (Emphasis added)
Filings show O’Donnell gave a combined $5,400 in contributions over the limit to the five candidates, and used five different New York addresses and four variations of her name.
The Post is correct in saying these things are rarely prosecuted unless the government detects a repeated pattern or indications that some sort of money laundering might be going on. And this still might not look like some sort of massive conspiracy. But the fact that she entered the information herself into the ActBlue site (an idea supported by her claim that, “My anxiety is quelled by donating to those opposing trump [and] his agenda — especially at night — when most of these were placed“) and had to have intentionally used variations of her name and different addresses would seem to demonstrate this was no mistake. She was intentionally attempting to skirt the law and violate the donation limits. Shouldn’t that be worthy of a visit from law enforcement?
It’s still rather shocking that all of these donations weren’t nipped in the bud, though. I recall from my days working on a relatively low-dollar, shoestring budget congressional campaign that this was a huge deal and everyone involved in collecting any contributions had to have training from the campaign’s attorney. Taking too much money (or in some cases, a legal amount of money from the wrong sort of people) was a huge no-no. But it’s still completely verboten.
So what will happen to O’Donnell in light of all that? Probably nothing. She will still be allowed to shift the money to a different race or even just take it back as a refund and get off with a warning if history is any guide. Good thing she wasn’t donating to Trump or she might have wound up in front of a congressional committee.