Representatives for Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Hillary Clinton traded attacks Monday as Sanders’ campaign raised concerns about Clinton’s joint campaign account with the Democratic National Committee.
Brad C. Deutsch, counsel to Sanders’ campaign, wrote in an open letter to DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz that the campaign had “extremely serious concerns” about the Hillary Victory Fund, a pool of money jointly fundraised by Clinton’s campaign and the DNC.
Deutsch stated that the money was used by Clinton’s campaign for advertising and direct mail materials, but had not benefitted the Democratic party itself or any of the state’s individual party committees. He suggested that Clinton and the DNC violated campaign finance rules and asked that the “violations should cease immediately.”
“Bernie 2016 is concerned that, at best, the joint fundraising committee’s spending on direct mail and online advertising appears to represent an impermissible in-kind contribution from the DNC and the participating state party committees to HFA,” he wrote. “At worst, using funds received from large-dollar donors who have already contributed the $2,700 maximum to HFA [Hillary for America] may represent an excessive contribution to HFA from these individuals.”
The account raised $33 million in the first three months of the year, according to paperwork filed last week with the Federal Election Commission.
Deutsch cited a February report in The Washington Post that detailed the Hillary Victory Fund as what drew the Sanders campaign’s attention to the topic. At the time, the newspaper characterized the Vermont senator’s own joint fundraising committee with the DNC as not yet active.
After Deutsch’s letter was released, Politico reported that the Sanders campaign distributed a fundraising email around the letter with the subject line, “This should anger EVERYONE.”
Clinton’s campaign manager, Robby Mook, fired back in a statement Monday afternoon, saying the “false” allegations about the Clinton campaign “have gotten out of hand.”
“As Senator Sanders faces nearly insurmountable odds, he is resorting to baseless accusations of illegal actions and poisoning the well for Democratic candidates up and down the ticket,” Mook said in a statement. “It is shameful that Senator Sanders has resorted to irresponsible and misleading attacks just to raise money for himself.”
Mook called on Sanders to “stick to the issues” and to drop his lawsuit against the DNC to prevent further draining of the party’s resources. The Sanders campaign officially filed suit last month against the DNC over access to voter information.