Sanders campaign pays $14.5K fine to settle FEC complaint
Sen. Bernie Sanders’s (I-Vt.) presidential campaign paid a $14,500 fine to settle a federal election complaint after an Australian political party paid for foreign volunteers to help Sanders during the 2016 presidential primary.
WMUR reported that the Sanders campaign agreed to settle with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) while not admitting fault for accepting assistance from the Australian Labor Party.
The party paid for flights and daily stipends for Australian volunteers to help out with Sanders campaign events, according to a copy of the “conciliation agreement” obtained by the news outlet.
Only American citizens can donate to federal campaigns. Assistance from a foreign political party would represent an illegal in-kind donation.
Sanders’s campaign told WMUR in a statement that the campaign does not “agree that it broke any rules” but instead paid the fine “in order to avoid a long and expensive fight with the FEC over the technical status of these young people.”
“During the course of the campaign thousands and thousands of young people from every state and many other countries volunteered. Among them were seven Australian young people who were receiving a modest stipend and airfare from the Australian Labor Party so they could learn about American politics,” the campaign said in a statement.
“The folks on the campaign managing volunteers did not believe the stipend disqualified them from being volunteers.”
The accusations initially came to light after Project Veritas, a conservative activist organization that typically targets left-leaning organizations and the media through undercover videos, filmed the volunteers working in New Hampshire. A complaint was later filed with the FEC in March 2016.
The Republican National Committee seized on the news this week to chastise Sanders and push back against allegations that President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian actors during the White House race.