Bernie Sanders has broken campaign finance laws and will soon be the subject of an investigation.
That’s the allegation made against America’s Favorite Socialist by lawyer and campaign finance expert Brady Toensing. In a letter to Vermont’s Attorney general, he asked the state open an investigation into reporting violations and “campaign finance violations involving an in-kind donation.”
That donation, LifeZette reports, amounts to Sanders’ use of a massive email database to raise funds for Vermont State Rep. Christopher Pearson that far exceeds state contribution limits. Toensing said that in addition to being a violation of campaign finance laws, Pearson might now be beholden to Sanders.
“The Sanders campaign’s improper use of its multi-million address email list (mostly with people from outside Vermont) violates both the letter and the spirit of the law,” Toensing wrote in the letter, adding that Pearson “will be beholden to and do exactly as he is told by Senator Sanders and his staff.”
“I think it’s important because we have an individual who’s seeking to have an outsized, an undue impact on this election and on the politics of Vermont. It’s totally inappropriate. It’s dragging money from places outside of our state to change the very nature of our state,” Toensing told LifeZette. “This is something that Senator Sanders rails against. He rails against money in politics, but what this reveals is what he’s really railing against are opposing views.”
“[Sanders has] shown that his message is incapable of surviving as part of a vigorous debate, so he wants to silence any contrary views and get his own out there without any opposition,” Toensing said. “I mean, to bring in a record-setting amount of money to a local Senate legislative race is really mind-boggling. It is altering this entire election and it’s going to alter state politics here in Vermont. And I’m sure that’s what the intent is, but it’s doing it in an illegal way. And totally violates both the letter and the spirit of the laws, of campaign finance laws.”
Toensing said that his staff would meet with the Attorney General’s office to determine the next steps.
The Sanders campaign responded that the allegations were “preposterous.”
“The senator is obviously well within his rights to endorse candidates and recommend to his supporters that they contribute to other candidates,” Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Sanders, wrote in an email to The Burlington Free Press. “This is common fundraising approach which is done by Democrats and Republicans every day all over the country.”
The allegations come right after the soul-crushing defeat in the race for the Democratic nomination against Hillary Clinton.
Sanders, though, soothed his forlorn heart by purchasing a $600,000 beachfront summer home in northern Vermont.