Sanders Campaign Got Foreign Help From Australians: FEC

February 28, 2018 Ken Doyle

This analysis was first available to Bloomberg Government subscribers.

The presidential campaign of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) illegally accepted foreign campaign contributions by getting help from a group of Australian campaign volunteers who were paid by the Australian Labor Party, the Federal Election Commission concluded.

A settlement between the FEC and the Sanders campaign will require the campaign to pay a fine of $14,500.

The Australians were paid a total $24,422 for airfare and stipends received while they worked for the Sanders campaign during the New Hampshire presidential primary, according to the FEC. Those payments counted as a foreign contribution prohibited by U.S. law.

The case could provide a legal precedent to establish that a presidential campaign can be held accountable for receiving foreign help.

The Sanders campaign contended it didn’t believe it violated the law because of an exemption for volunteer services provided by foreigners. The campaign settled the case “in order to avoid the expense of litigation, without admitting liability,” according to a conciliation agreement between the campaign and the FEC.

The agreement resolved an enforcement complaint filed during the 2016 presidential campaign. The settlement was first reported by local television station WMUR in Manchester, N.H. The FEC handles enforcement matters in strict secrecy and doesn’t release documents in closed cases until a month after they are resolved.

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