May 2, 2016

State Parties Unhappy With Clinton Fundraising Machine

In the first four months of 2016, Secretary Clinton’s campaign has been forced to find new angles to attack her primary rival, Bernie Sanders. His durability is a testament to how poorly those Clinton attacks have gone thus far, but one line of attack, in particular, has backfired in a very public way.

Clinton has recently taken to questioning Sanders’ loyalty to the Democratic Party due to his independent affiliation in the Senate.

“He’s a relatively new Democrat, and, in fact, I’m not even sure he is one. He’s running as one. So I don’t know quite how to characterize him.”

During a town hall on MSNBC, Clinton made it clear what true champion she was for local Democrats:

CLINTON: “I am dedicated to electing Democrats — it’s something that I’ve spent many years doing.  I am a Democrat and I want to see more Democrats elected from the small boroughs in Montgomery County to Philadelphia to across the country.  So you can count on me doing that because I feel very strongly that we need to have a vital, dynamic Democratic Party.

However, Politico reported today that Clinton is apparently all talk. When it came time to put her money where her mouth was, Clinton just took all the money for herself:

But less than 1 percent of the $61 million raised by that effort has stayed in the state parties’ coffers, according to a POLITICO analysis of the latest Federal Election Commission filings.

As a result, local parties are feeling ripped off, and though they may not want to publicly criticize the Clinton campaign, they are doing so privately:

But it is perhaps more notable that the arrangement has prompted concerns among some participating state party officials and their allies. They grumble privately that Clinton is merely using them to subsidize her own operation, while her allies overstate her support for their parties and knock Sanders for not doing enough to help the party.

Some fundraisers who work for state parties predict that the arrangement could actually hurt participating state parties. They worry that participating states that aren’t presidential battlegrounds and lack competitive Senate races could see very little return investment from the DNC or Clinton’s campaign, and are essentially acting as money laundering conduits for them. And for party committees in contested states, there’s another risk: they might find themselves unable to accept cash from rich donors whose checks to the victory fund counted towards their $10,000 donation limit to the state party in question — even if that party never got to spend the cash because it was transferred to the DNC.

Already battling an enthusiasm gap, Clinton’s struggles among grassroots Democrats will only get worse if she continues depleting their resources (while simultaneously bragging about all the money she’s raising for them).