Ethics Watchdog Calls for Investigation of the DCCC & Congressional Candidate
Updated: Mar 19, 2019
FACT says DCCC gave and Jason Crow accepted illegal in-kind contributions to influence the Colorado House Primary
(Washington, D.C.) – May 15, 2018 - The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), a non-partisan ethics watchdog group filed a complaint today with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against theDemocratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and Jason Crow, the Democratic challenger in Colorado’s 6th Congressional District. FACT is alleging the DCCC gave Mr. Crow illegal in-kind campaign contributions in the form of polling data and fundraising email lists to try and unfairly influence the outcome of a House primary race in favor of Crow.
FACT’s complaint cites a recorded conversation between House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer and another Colorado primary candidate. The conversation revealed the DCCC picked Crow as its preferred candidate to win Colorado’s 6th Congressional District Democratic Primary and was urging the opposing candidate to “leave the race multiple times and make way for Crow.” According to the complaint, other candidates reported that the DCCC gave its favored candidate Crow valuable resources including polling data and email lists for fundraising purposes. Neither the DCCC or Crow reported any of these alleged contributions.
According to the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, a national party committee may assist a candidate by giving contributions that do not exceed $5,000 during the primary and general election. In-kind contributions are defined as “anything of value . . . for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office.” Email lists, polling data, analysis and advice made to a campaign with knowledge of a poll on “matters such as campaign strategy or creating media messages” are all considered in-kind contributions. In-kind contributions are limited to a total value of $5,000 and must be reported by both the party committee and the candidate. Based upon the industry standard, the value of the polling information and mailing lists Crow received from the DCCC likely exceeded this $5,000 limit on in-kind contributions.
“Candidate reporting requirements exist to prevent corruption and ensure transparency in our elections, which is something the DCCC showed a blatant disregard for in this case,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT). “What’s equally disturbing is that this type of Machiavellian behavior has been endorsed by House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi,” Arnold added.
In a recent press report, House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi defended the DCCC’s intervention in the Colorado primary, stating, “…if the reality is that some candidates can get into the general [more] than others, then that’s a clear-eyes conversation.” Pelosi has also been reported as having said, “candidates who complained about party intervention needed to focus on the prize – control of the House.”
This is not the first FEC complaint regarding an in-kind contributions FACT has filed. In 2015, FACT filed FEC complaints against Senator Claire McCaskill for unlawfully providing $40,000 worth of data and information to her Republican opponent Todd Akin during her 2012 re-election. The goal was to help Akin, McCaskill's preferred opponent that year, win the republican primary. Proving polling information is an in-kind contribution, which McCaskill's plan to influence the election did. The revelation was first reported by Politico in a piece authored by Senator McCaskill, “How I Helped Todd Akin Win—So I Could Beat Him Later.”
FACT is calling on the FEC to immediately investigate to determine if a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 occurred and hold the DCCC and Jason Crow accountable.
FACT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: http://www.factdc.org/.