Not long ago, the Hillary Clinton campaign bragged about thwarting Project Veritas Action and their efforts to conduct undercover investigations into their campaign practices. In this new video, though, PVA didn’t need to go undercover. One of their investigators happened to be in line for merchandise at Hillary’s Roosevelt Island relaunch, and captured a discussion about a Canadian supporter who wanted to buy a shirt and therefore make a donation. The compliance manager for the campaign warned the Director of Marketing against it, noting that it violated FEC regulations to take money from a foreign national.
Does that mean Team Hillary would turn down an Andrew Jackson? You’re kidding, right?
In this latest video from Project Veritas Action, attorney Erin Tibe, Compliance Manager for Hillary Clinton’s national campaign, clearly and explicitly counsels Molly Barker that the campaign “can’t take contributions from anyone that is not a citizen of the United States.” Barker serves as the Director of Marketing for Hillary’s national campaign. Barker is not only captured on tape accepting the illegal contribution, when asked if it was legal by a Project Veritas Action journalist she replied “Not technically…”
During Clinton’s kickoff campaign event at Roosevelt Island, a Canadian citizen with no affiliation to Project Veritas Action attempted to make a donation to the Clinton campaign by purchasing a Hillary shirt. Barker knew that this was illegal, a fact which was confirmed by Clinton’s national Compliance Manager Erin Tibe, yet proceeded to process the contribution.
Tibe quickly walked away rather than ensuring the campaign was adhering to the law, while Barker facilitated a straw man transaction where the Canadian citizen gave cash to an American citizen who subsequently purchased the shirt for the Canadian under Barker’s direction. Thus, Barker who was fully aware of the law didn’t merely look the other way like Tibe did, rather, she actually facilitated election illegalities.
“I’d like to thank Hillary Clinton for making our job so easy,” said Project Veritas Action President James O’Keefe. “Our journalists were on a reconnaissance mission at Hillary’s campaign launch when by chance a Canadian citizen wanted to make a contribution and as you can see in the video, Clinton’s top staffers were happy to oblige.”
Ironically, as James O’Keefe points out, Hillary Clinton inveighed against Citizens United in her speech that day and the “unaccountable” cash that drowns out the voices of others. Practically at the same moment, two paid managers of Team Hillary are turning a blind eye to a straw donor arrangement that forms in front of their eyes. Clearly, some people are in for a retraining session.
More to the point, would anyone at the FEC care about “straw man” purchases of swag? Er, no, or at least they never have, Dave Weigel notes:
There are just two catches. One: No one’s ever thrown the book at an American for purchasing merchandise from a campaign, then giving it to a foreigner as a gift. Two: The person who takes the Canadian’s money and gives it to the Clinton campaign is the Project Veritas Action journalist. The Clinton campaign, which has leaked evidence of other PVA stings to journalists, is gleefully brushing this one off.
That’s not actually what happened here — the PVA journalist clearly didn’t give it as a gift to a friend, but used the Canadian woman’s money — but yeah, this is hardly the Buddhist Temple scandal of 2016. This is much more amusing than substantive, but worth a laugh nonetheless. The bigger question here is whether one can exercise any control over cash from foreign nationals at swag tables like this in any practical sense. It would not surprise me if many campaigns in both parties struggled on ensuring US citizenship at the point of sale for live events. And that’s why the FEC isn’t going to worry much about it no matter where it happens, because it’s not going to impact an election and it’d be impossible to monitor anyway. It’s a good argument for barring these kinds of swag sales as fundraisers, but that’s not going to happen either for the same reason. Swag sales will not be the linchpin of any presidential campaign fundraising, especially with the Clintons.
This dimly recalls the controversy in 2008 over Barack Obama’s campaign website and the lack of controls over online foreign donations, where transactions with foreign nationals were eminently preventable, but little effort was put into screening them out. That involved an exponentially larger and more worrisome scale than what we see here. Does the Hillary website screen for foreign nationals in its credit card transactions, for swag purchases and donations? That might be worth an undercover investigation.