Hillary Clinton Super PAC Accepted $200,000 in Illegal Contributions from Government Contractor
WASHINGTON – Priorities USA Action, a super PAC backing Hillary Clinton, accepted $200,000 in contributions from a government contractor in violation of federal law.
While Priorities USA – following press coverage of the illegal contribution – returned the money to Suffolk Construction Company, it still failed to do so within 30 days of learning of the possible violation, as the law requires. The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 today filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission demanding the agency investigate and impose appropriate sanctions on both Priorities USA and Suffolk Construction Company.
“Priorities USA could have easily determined from the outset that Suffolk Construction Company was a major federal contractor, and certainly has known since April, when reporters first raised the issue,” said Brendan Fischer, associate counsel with the Campaign Legal Center. “Yet, the super PAC didn’t return the contribution when they learned it was illegal – they only did so when it became politically inconvenient.”
Suffolk Construction is a major federal contractor, having received $168.8 million in contracts since 2008, and its donations put it among Priorities USA’s top donors in 2015. The law is clear that federal contractors are prohibited from making contributions to a political committee while negotiating or performing a federal contract, and a political committee is similarly prohibited from soliciting and receiving contributions from a federal contractor.
The law also makes clear that political committees must examine the legality of contributions when they are received -- and when later faced with new evidence that a contribution came from a prohibited source like a federal contractor, must refund the contribution within 30 days.
Priorities USA knew about the company’s status as a contractor at least as early as April 2016, when the Center for Public Integrity asked the super PAC for comment – and then published a story – about Priorities USA receiving contributions from the contractor. Yet the contributions were not returned until July, following a Hill story raising the same issue but which attracted wider attention.