The Federal Elections Commission plays an important role in ensuring that donations to political campaigns do not exceed the maximum amount. Money shouldn’t control politics, so there is a limit as to how much money an individual can donate to a single campaign. Back in 2012, Dinesh D’Souza asked a few of his friends to donate $10,000 each to a congressional campaign.
It wouldn’t have been a big deal, had he not refunded those very same donations back with his own cash. He was fined $30,000 and faced five years of probation along with eight months in a halfway house for his infractions.
In 2008, the Obama campaign was actually fined $375,000 for not disclosing or returning excess donation within certain deadlines. But the penalty remained strictly financial, unlike D’Souza.
Now the issue has come up again, as Rosie O’Donnell has made a similar mistake with her contributions to several Democratic campaigns over the past year. She went over campaign limits in several races over the past two years, always supporting the Democratic candidate.
“Rosie O’Donnell made illegally over-sized campaign donations to at least five Democratic federal candidates,” the conservative-leaning New York Post reported. “The liberal comedian has regularly broken Federal Election Commission rules limited the total any one person can give to an individual candidate at $2,700 per election.”
Rosie herself was interviewed by the Post after those accusations were made. She claimed that it was, “Nothing nefarious,” and cited a donation website as the cause of the issue.
“If 2,700 is the cut off – (candidates) should refund the money,” she said. “I don’t look to see who I can donate most to… I just donate assuming they do not accept what is over the limit.”
She says that the donation platform ActBlue should have been keeping track of these federal limits to ensure that the donors wouldn’t be breaking the law. Unfortunately, that was not the case.
It is yet to be determined if she will be fined or receive any penalty for her over-donations. But it is hard to imagine that she doesn’t understand federal campaign donation limits after she donated over $90,000 total in the last election cycle.
“Donors are rarely fined for excess contributions and then only if they are hiding the donations from the recipients,” said Jan Witold Baran, a D.C. campaign finance lawyer.
Rosie made yet another crucial mistake when she made these illegal donations, by using four different names and five different addresses. While this is clearly not kosher, it is unclear whether this constitutes, “hiding the donations,” as Baran mentioned.
Campaign finance is an important topical issue right now, as President Donald Trump is under investigation for somewhat related charges regarding payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.
Whichever way you look at it, money has clearly corrupted the political system in some way. When campaign finance violations on both sides are a regular thing, you know we might have a problem as a country that we need to fix.
Do you think the American democratic system is working as intended, or does something need to change? Share your thoughts in the comments!