An early indicator of the Democratic National Committee’s corruption appeared when the organization rolled back President Obama’s restrictions banning donations from federal lobbyists and political action committees. The DNC’s decision was leaked several months after the decision had been made, and is seen as a step backward in avoiding the purchase of favors by special interest groups and wealthy donors (bribes).
White House spokesman, Eric Schultz, said,
“The guidelines that were previously in place at the DNC were guidelines that were instituted when Barack Obama, then Senator Obama, became the Democratic nominee for president of the United States. Those were guidelines that were modeled after his campaign for the presidency.”
Fred Wertheimer, a longtime reform advocate stated,
“It is a major step in the wrong direction, and it is completely out of touch with the clear public rejection of the role of political money in Washington.”
This decision, in turn, gave Hillary Clinton permission to raise millions of dollars in contributions from wealthy individuals, such as like billionaire James Simons, who has donated nearly $10 million to her campaign. Through use of a proxy, Chinese billionaire Ng Lap Seng has donated over $1 million in contributions to Bill Clinton with only the proxy found guilty on criminal charges, while the billionaire and the Clintons escaped conviction). It was also uncovered that Seng “had been favored with 10 visits to the White House, including an elevator ride with Hillary Clinton.”
The decision also allows lobbyists and PACs to contribute to the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee between the Clinton campaign and the DNC that raised $26.7 million through the end of 2015. Bernie Sanders gained popularity with his argument special interests have “rigged” the economy against the lower and middle classes. Although Hillary Clinton has repeatedly denied she has been influenced by donations or speaking fees, her actions say otherwise.
Campaign finance reform advocates criticized the DNC decision to accept money from lobbyists, suggesting a relaxation of ethical standards in place since 2008 and citing the gigantic contributions already provided to the Hillary Victory Fund.
Generally speaking, the DNC has returned to a pre-2008, business as usual, way of doing business. The DNC went so far as to hire a finance director who has recently emailed prospective donors, letting them know they can now contribute again, according to an email. The decision has angered supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has railed against the influence of lobbyists, particularly those representing Wall Street.
Hillary Clinton has set up a joint fundraising committee with the DNC called the Hillary Victory Fund, which raised $26.9 million through the end of 2015. Sanders has set up a similar joint fundraising committee but Federal Election Commission records show it has not been active, raising a total of just $1,000.
The new Clinton Fund takes money from big donors, and is then distributed between Clinton’s campaign and 33 state Democratic Party committees. In recent months, a Clinton’s team has asked supporters to give up to $366,100. Federal Election Commission records have shown that through the end of the year, 56 donors had written checks of $100,000 or more to the Hillary Victory Fund. Most contributions came from individuals, but a small number came from corporations.
Reformers have complained the new rules have already changed Washington ethics. The donations provide opportunities for influence-buying by Washington lobbyists with six-figure contributions to the Hillary Victory Fund.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz will continue as chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee until the November.
If the reader has an interest, there is a group planning to protest at the convention. The groups leaders have set up a Facebook page (titled Occupy DNC Convention) to organize transportation and housing. Officially, the protesters’ mission is: “To contest Hillary’s nomination on the grounds of fraud, voter suppression, and corruption. We show them who we want.”