Yang Campaign Can’t Just Give Away Cash to Voters

Andrew Yang speaking in front of an American flag
Andrew Yang speaking with attendees at the 2019 Iowa Democratic Wing Ding at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Creative Commons.

At the third Democratic debate in Houston, Texas, hosted by ABC, candidate for President of the United States Andrew Yang promised to give away free money. He announced that his campaign – through a raffle – would give 10 families $1,000 per month for a year as part of a case study on his universal basic income policy.

This sounds great, and surely would excite the recipients of this money. But Yang should have consulted an election law expert first. If he had, he would have learned about the section of the federal code that bans the conversion of campaign funds to personal use

CLC's Adav Noti told The New York Times, “campaign donors give their hard-earned money to fund campaign activities, and the law makes clear that paying personal expenses is not a campaign activity. When donors give, they have a reasonable expectation that their money will be used on a campaign and not on somebody’s car payment.”

The Yang campaign should reconsider whether “breaking the mold” of presidential politics is worth a potential violation of law.

Corey handles media relations for the CLC voting rights and redistricting teams and creates online content. Follow @cgfromdc on Twitter