The American Prospect: Nonprofit Structure Backfires on 'Our Revolution'


“I believe it is unprecedented for a federal office holder to set up a (c)(4) to get involved in candidate elections,” says Paul S. Ryan, deputy executive director of the Campaign Legal Center. Even if Sanders has no current role in the organization, says Ryan, any Sanders-established group would have to raise money under the campaign-finance regulations.

But Democracy for America’s structure as a PAC, subject to contribution limits and full disclosure, ensures that its history with Dean—who has not held elective office for more than a decade in any case—does not put it at odds with election laws. The group is run not by Dean but by his brother, Jim. Democracy for America’s independence from the former Vermont Governor came into full view during the Democratic primary, when the group endorsed and helped raise $1.9 million for Sanders, even as Howard Dean came out in favor of Hillary Clinton. As for OFA, notes Ryan, that group involves itself only in issues and does nothing to engage in elections or assist candidates.

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