Dark money group founded by Bernie Sanders is violating the law, watchdog group says

By Andrew Kerr

A dark money group founded by Sen. Bernie Sanders is violating federal campaign finance law, according to a Federal Election Commission complaint filed Wednesday.

The political nonprofit group Our Revolution, which Sanders founded in 2016, has been violating the federal “soft money” ban by boosting his presidential campaign since its launch in February 2019, the complaint from the watchdog group Common Cause states.

Campaign finance laws state that groups “directly or indirectly established” by federal officeholders such as Sanders can’t “solicit, receive, direct, transfer, or spend funds” for federal electoral activity that exceeds the limitations of the law, which in Our Revolution’s case would be $5,000 per election.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.

“Because Sanders set up Our Revolution and they have raised and spent money in candidate elections, Our Revolution is required to comply with contribution limits, register with the FEC and discloses its donors — but it hasn’t,” Common Cause attorney Paul S. Ryan told The Associated Press. “It’s his establishment of the group that triggers these laws. That means a $5,000 limit, full donor disclosure and no contributions from prohibited sources.”

“The facts surrounding Our Revolution, including its founding by Sen. Sanders, its receipt of six-figure contributions, its failure to disclose donors to the FEC, and its political spending in Iowa and elsewhere, point to a clear violation of the federal soft money ban,” Ryan added in a separate statement Wednesday.

Our Revolution is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group that can accept unlimited contributions without disclosing the identities of its donors. The group has received $9.5 million in contributions starting in 2016 through 2018. In 2018, Our Revolution reported that it received contributions of $218,309 and $195,000, but didn’t disclose in its tax filing the individual or group behind those donations.

Our Revolution does disclose on its website the names of donors who have given $250 or more in a single year, but the list is not comprehensive. It doesn’t disclose the exact amount each individual has given, and Our Revolution grants anonymity to donors who wish to keep their identities hidden, according to AP.

Our Revolution has sent dozens of emails in recent weeks touting the work it’s doing to get Sanders elected. The group’s national political coordinator, Sam Rosenthal, wrote to supporters in November 2019 soliciting donations to “help Our Revolution elect Bernie Sanders and fight big money in politics up and down the ballot!”

Sanders previously denied wrongdoing with his dealings with the dark money group. He tried distancing himself from Our Revolution on Sunday during a candidate forum in New Hampshire, but he declined to publicly ask the group to stop assisting his candidacy, saying that if he “told them what to do, that would be a violation of campaign finance law.”

But former FEC lawyer Adav Noti told the AP that there are no provisions in the law that would prohibit Sanders from publicly disavowing support from a dark money group such as Our Revolution.

Our Revolution and the Sanders campaign did not return a request for comment.

Sanders’s wife, Jane Sanders, is also linked to Our Revolution. She served as a director of Our Revolution for a brief period of time following its July 2016 founding, incorporation records show. Jane Sanders stepped down from her post within the group in August that year amid internal turmoil over the group’s structure as a dark money entity, ABC News reported.

Our Revolution also shared a relationship with Sanders’s 2018 Senate campaign as well, having sublet some of its Washington, D.C., office space to his re-elect effort.

Sanders has directly interacted with Our Revolution as recently as September 2019 when he joined a conference call hosted by the dark money group celebrating its third anniversary, thanking it for “doing some of the most important work that can be done in our country,” the AP reported.

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Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore/Flickr

6 thoughts on “Dark money group founded by Bernie Sanders is violating the law, watchdog group says

  1. Correction: Comrade Bernard Sanders doesn’ merely ‘attract’ Antifa goons, thugs and Communist Party activists – it’s become quite clear he is actively recruiting them. Does anyone believe Bernis’ bored refrain of having ‘hundreds of staffers’ but cannot control what they do. Uh huh.
    Bernie Sanders Staffer Admits Campaign Attracts “Marxists, Leninists And Anarchists”
    by Tyler Durden Tue, 01/28/2020 – 11:05
    Two more Bernie Sanders staffers have been caught on tape speaking passionately about ‘the revolution’ they’re fighting, they type of people the Sanders campaign attracts, and the need to take direct, violent action against their enemies.

  2. Bernie breaking the law??? How can that be???? Must be that he was ignorant of the law. Got news for you Bernie, ignorance of the law is no excuse for breaking the law. Law school 101.

  3. Check out Peter Schweizer’s books – ‘Secret Empires’, ‘Profiles in Corruption’, and ‘Extortion’. If there’s compelling evidence for term limits, as happens to be the case only with the Presidency and Vice Presidency, it should be the case for all professional politicians receiving great pay and benefits, and getting rich at taxpayer expense. You all know who they are.

    Schweizer’s past advice is well taken. ‘Throw Them All Out’. First published November 15, 2011

  4. His wife and her kids are involved still with the so called “Our Revolution”. It’s another “PAY and PLAY” just like the Clintons. Ol’ Hillary and bank fraud Janey were great friends. Sanders started the foundation. It’s a way for them to make and hide money. He has been doing it for decades.

  5. Wow, that must be fake news, Socialist Sanders he’s ” Holier Than Thou ” just listen
    to him the only crook is Trump !!

    Maybe Bernie needs some funds for the ” Burlington College ” investigation, with Jane
    but wait, nothing there either, just ask him !!

    Don’t worry he’ll play ignorant about knowing ………..

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