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Leaked Memo Raises Questions About Illegal Coordination Between Clinton Campaign and Super PACs


Hillary Clinton DNC via screengrab

Federal campaign finance laws generally prohibit a candidate’s election campaign from coordinating with the candidate’s super PAC.  However, the law on what constitutes coordination is somewhat fuzzy, or open to wide interpretation, to say the least.  The latest email dump from Wikileaks includes a legal memorandum that provides a perfect example of how far Clinton campaign lawyers are willing to go in interpreting what may be considered illegal coordination with a super PAC.

The April 2015 memorandum outlines a strategy for the Clinton campaign to work with the Priorities USA Action Fund super PAC (Priorities) in a manner that campaign lawyers argue does not rise to the level of coordination under campaign finance law. One particular focus of the memo is in the area of fundraising and the sharing donor information between the campaign and the super PAC.

The memo interprets the law as allowing the Clinton campaign to “identify donor prospects for Priorities and provide Priorities with the donors’ contact information using a specific template form approved by the legal team.” A footnote then explains why using the template form is so important:

Merely completing [the template form] likely would not be an in-kind contribution from [the campaign] to Priorities. However, sending over a substantial portion of HFA’s donor list likely would have to be valued and reported as an in-kind contribution.

In other words, it appears the campaign may be able to avoid a potential coordination violation by simply breaking up the donor list and sending it to the super PAC in small increments.

The memo also provides further guidance about what type of donor information may be shared between both groups.   “Priorities may also ask Clinton’s campaign to make recommendations on the following topics: (1) whom to solicit; (2) how much to solicit from each donor; and (3) messages to emphasize when soliciting funds,” the memo states.  However, the memo notes that when conveying information about the amount of money that a donor may contribute, the Clinton campaign should only give generic numbers like “six-figures.”

The leaked memo is likely to raise additional questions about potential campaign finance law violations by the Clinton campaign.  Just last week, the Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission that accuses the Clinton campaign of illegally coordinating with David Brock’s Correct the Record super PAC.

READ the memo:

Memorandum on Interactions With Priorities USA by LawNewz on Scribd

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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