Erstwhile president-hopeful Bernie Sanders has been penalized by the Federal Election Commission for accepting donations from the Australian Labor Party illegally.
In early February, the FEC discovered that Sanders' campaign had utilized the services of Australian volunteers, whose expenses had been paid by the Australian Labor Party.
The Australian Labor Party paid students to fly to the United States to work as volunteers for Bernie's campaign back in 2016. Federal election law does not permit “any foreign national from donating anything of value in U.S. elections.”
His campaign received donations to the tune of $25,000 from the socialist foreign party.
Sanders was fined $14,000 in civil penalties by the FEC for violation of federal election law.
Vice News reported that a Sanders' spokesman said that he accepted the ruling to avoid further legal expenses. However, he won’t admit to violating the election law.
“During the course of the campaign, thousands and thousands of young people from every state and many other countries volunteered. Among them were seven Australian young people who were receiving a modest stipend and airfare from the Australian Labor Party so they could learn about American politics,” the spokesperson said.
“The folks on the campaign managing volunteers did not believe the stipend disqualified them from being volunteers.”
In accordance with Bernie's stance, the Australian Labor Party denied violating the election law in America.
“All parties send observers to overseas elections. It has happened for decades. This is a new and very strict interpretation,” an ALP source told the Australian press. “We don’t believe any rules were broken.”
The transaction was brought to the FEC's notice initially by former New Hampshire Speaker of the House William O’Brien. He became aware of the activity when Project Veritas, led by James O'Keefe, had been investigating the collusion of Sanders with the Australian Labor Party back in 2016.
The former New Hampshire Speaker said that he will further investigate the incident with the Department of Justice and the New Hampshire Attorney General.
In an interview with WMUR Manchester on Tuesday, O'Brien said, “I’m disappointed that it’s not comprehensive. It doesn’t go into the Australian government funding. And I’m disappointed that it doesn’t go with greater specificity into the actual things that they were doing. I’m disappointed that they didn’t go to what was the effect on the campaign.”
“It’s basically the Australian government using the conduit of a socialist party to assist the socialist candidate in the United States,” he added.
O'Brien said that he is wary due to the apparent “two sets of rules” that apply for Republicans and Democrats separately, saying that nobody investigated the Democrats amidst their relentless smear campaign against Trump's campaign the last year.
According to a report by the Daily Caller, Sanders' roped in Australian nationals to further his campaign and were funded by the Australian Labor Party (ALP) for the same:
“While volunteering with the Sanders campaign, the Australians engaged in political activities ‘including encouraging voter attendance at campaign events, recruiting volunteers, canvassing with volunteers, and planning events,; according to the FEC.”
“The Sanders campaign ‘treated the ALP delegates no differently from any other campaign out-of-town volunteers and was aware that they were receiving a stipend from the ALP,’ the FEC added.”
According to the FEC draft, Sanders agreed to pay $14,500 in civil penalties, to stop contesting the charges legally and abstain from repeating the violation again. This is an excerpt from the Conciliation Agreement between the FEC and the Vermont senator:
“Information in the Commission’s possession indicates that ALP paid a total of $16,140 for the delegates’ flights and $8,282 for their daily stipends.”
“Solely for the purpose of settling this matter expeditiously and to avoid the expense of litigation, and without admitting liability, Respondent agrees not to further contest the Commission’s finding that Respondent accepted a $24,422 prohibited in-kind foreign national contribution in violation of 52 U.S.C. § 3012(a)(2).”
"Respondent will cease and desist from violating 52 U.S.C. § 3012(a)(2).”
According to the aforementioned conciliation agreement, the ALP paid for flights as well as daily stipends for the young volunteers from Australia who assisted Sanders' campaign events
Federal law dictates that only American citizens and registered groups can donate to political campaigns. Any kind of financial support from a foreign political party would be deemed an illegal donation.
In a statement to WMUR, Sanders said that his campaign does not "agree that it broke any rules" but instead paid the fine "in order to avoid a long and expensive fight with the FEC over the technical status of these young people."
The opportunity to strike back against left-leaning propagandists was seized by the Republican National Committee who went on to denigrate Sanders campaign and refuted baseless allegations against President Trump's apparent 'collusion' with Russia during the presidential campaign in 2016.
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