Michael Isikoff @ Reuters: Watchdog group accuses Clinton campaign of election law violations
A nonpartisan watchdog group Thursday called for a federal investigation of Hillary Clinton’s campaign committee, accusing it of illegally accepting millions of dollars worth of “opposition research” and other assistance from Correct the Record, an outside super-PAC, in violation of U.S. election laws.
The Campaign Legal Center also filed complaints with the Federal Election Commission to initiate probes of Donald Trump’s campaign, and two super-PACs backing it, for similar violations of laws barring “coordination” between political campaigns and outside groups.
But the Campaign Legal Center’s detailed 52-page complaint against Hillary for America and Correct the Record — part of the sprawling political empire run by Clinton backer David Brock — is likely to get special attention, given Clinton’s repeated advocacy of campaign finance reform. She has vowed to “curb the influence of big money in American politics” and to push for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United — the controversial ruling that opened the door for groups such as Correct the Record to accept unlimited donations to benefit political candidates.
Correct the Record, which has taken in over $6 million in this campaign from hedge-fund executives, plaintiffs’ lawyers and other wealthy donors, has effectively become a “parallel shadow” arm of the Clinton campaign, said Larry Noble, who served for 13 years as the chief legal counsel for the FEC and is now chief counsel of the Campaign Legal Center. “They’re training people [for the Clinton campaign], they’re doing research for it. They’ve really pushed the envelope in this case, and ripped it open.”
Asked for comment, Clinton campaign spokesman Glen Caplin said the complaint was a “frivolous lawsuit” and had no merit. Brad Woodhouse, president of Correct the Record, also fired back that the issues raised in the complaint were “ridiculous” and similar to those raised in another complaint last year against the group. He said Correct the Record was well within its rights to coordinate its activities with the Clinton campaign, because it restricts itself to communicating through Internet messages and on its website — forms of communication that he said are “free from campaign finance regulation” under FEC rules.
To be sure, Correct the Record is different from many other super-PACs in that it doesn’t run standard “attack ads” on television and radio. Instead, it features as its centerpiece hard-edged political attacks online — such as a recently posted mock-tabloid coverproclaiming the “bromance” between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Trump, complete with big red hearts.
But the Campaign Legal Center details evidence that Correct the Record’s pro-Clinton activities go well beyond Internet political trolling. Citing multiple media reports and campaign filings, the group’s complaint charges that Correct the Record, among other activities, deployed so-called trackers to trail and record rival candidates (such as former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley during the Democratic primaries ); hired a polling firm (which declared Clinton the instant winner after a debate with Bernie Sanders); set up a 30-person “war room” to do “rapid response” to attacks on Clinton during her appearance before the House Select Committee on Benghazi (including circulating a 140-page “opposition research” book that “impugns the character of Republicans” on the panel; paid $391,000 to an affiliated Brock organization, the Franklin Forum, to conduct media training for Clinton surrogates; committed to spend $1 million to “confront social media users who post unflattering messages” about Clinton; and received a $275,615 direct payment from the Clinton campaign in June 2015 for what was listed as “research.”
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Next time some guy says there's not enough fraud in U.S. election to matter, ask if he'd volunteer to have his vote cancelled by a fake one.
— Brit Hume (@brithume) October 6, 2016