For three years, Democrats have tried to take down President Trump and every single time, they resorted to one specific law to try to make the case for his impeachment, prosecution, and, yes, even incarceration. At the heart of all of the Democrats' anti-Trump investigations is the allegation that the President violated campaign finance laws.
Under Federal law, it is illegal to take in more than $2,800 from a single donor in each election cycle. Since the primary and general elections count as different cycles, that means the maximum that anyone can donate to a single campaign in an election is $5,600. Donating even a dollar above this limit is a Federal crime.
This is made even more complicated by the fact that the FEC also applies this limit to in-kind campaign contributions. If you give a non-monetary contribution to a political campaign, and that contribution has value, then it still must be reported.
Let's say that you own a wedding venue and want to donate it to a political campaign so they can use it to host a fundraiser. At first glance, this would seem harmless. But because this is an in-kind contribution, it can get really tricky.
If you typically rent out your venue for, say, $6,000, it would be illegal to donate it to the campaign because that would exceed the $5,600 allowed by law. If you were to give the campaign a discount, that would also be illegal because giving anything below its market value would also count as an in-kind donation. The only way to legally hold a fundraiser in the venue would be for the campaign to pay all or some of the costs.
Democrats have tried to use these in-kind contribution regulations to catch the President in an impeachable crime. As you remember, Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen pled guilty to campaign finance violations. Not because he donated too much money to the Trump campaign, but because he paid Stormy Daniels out of his own personal account for the non-disclosure agreement. Prosecutors argued that Cohen had personally bought Stormy Daniels' silence, which had value to the Trump campaign and far exceeded the $5,600 cap.
Remember too that the impeachment nonsense also began as a campaign finance complaint. The so-called whistleblower complained to the Inspector General that the President of the United States was committing a campaign finance violation by soliciting "dirt" on a political opponent. The reasoning (which was thrown out by DOJ lawyers) was that this was akin to soliciting opposition research, which itself has value. And since it is illegal for foreigners to donate to political campaigns, the allegation was that Trump had solicited illegal campaign contributions.
Both arguments were obviously nonsense. But our campaign laws are so poorly written that they are still debatable. The 1st Amendment protects your individual right to free speech and to advocate for the candidate of your choice, but the FEC maintains it has the right to prosecute anyone who donates too much of themselves to a particular campaign.
Democrats have spent three years bastardizing our campaign finance laws and stretching them to try to trap Trump in a criminal violation. That cat is already out of the bag. While I am confident that these laws would be tossed out if ever subjected to real judicial scrutiny, they remain on the books. And if Republicans are going to be prosecuted to the fullest, and even beyond the extent of the law, then it only makes sense for Democrats to come under scrutiny as well.
Which brings us to the topic of this article: Michael Bloomberg. Like Donald Trump, Bloomberg is a billionaire and a relative novice when it comes to national politics. That is particularly dangerous because Bloomberg has enough money to get himself into trouble.
During the recent Democratic debate, candidates were discussing gun control issues when Michael Bloomberg took the opportunity to toot his own horn and brag about his gun control accomplishments. Here is the quote, let's see if you can catch the part that could get him into serious trouble...
"I think she recognized me, thank you. I have a 6 million-person organization around this country. Moms Demand Action and Everytown. We have put background checks -- we have got background checks in 20 states. So you can do it. It's Congress that can't seem to do it. And I don't know why we think they're going to do it. The vice president voted for a death bill, and supported the NRA. And certainly Senator Sanders has supported the NRA. But we can do this. We have just got to stop talking about it."
Did you catch the mistake that Michael Bloomberg made? He said, "I have" an organization...
Micheal Bloomberg founded the organization, Everytown for Gun Safety, which owns Moms Demand Action for Gunsense in America. Every year, Michael Bloomberg makes up around one-third of the donations that these two groups receive.
When Michael Bloomberg started his Presidential campaign, it was hard to see where his Everytown ended and his campaign began. Bloomberg hired many of Everytown's staffers onto his campaign. Everytown and Moms Demand filled his rallies with their members. Bloomberg is currently renting Moms Demand Action's email list and his Super Bowl commercial featured one of the organization's members and b-roll footage recorded during Moms Demand Action's events.
Bloomberg has every right to dump hundreds of millions of dollars into these gun control organizations. It is also perfectly legal for him to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on his own campaign.
It becomes a crime, however, to use the money donated to the 501c4 organization to benefit his political campaign.
Moms Demand Action and Everytown can work with Bloomberg. They are well within their rights to rent their email lists to him. But they have to do it at market rates. If they give their lists to Bloomberg for free, or at a discount, then that could very well violate the law.
These gun control groups also have every right to encourage their members to attend Mike Bloomberg's rallies. It becomes potentially criminal if this non-profit organization coordinates with the campaign to fill seats in the venue.
And it is certainly legal for Moms Demand Action to produce a video highlighting the political advocacy of one of their members. But when that story ends up being used as a Michael Bloomberg Super Bowl ad, it raises a ton of questions.
It is legal for Everytown/Moms Demand Action and Mike Bloomberg to have parallel advertising. There is nothing illegal about them sharing the same political opinions. It becomes potentially criminal when there is coordination and goods/services are not sold at market rates.
Of course, the easiest way to defend against these allegations is to claim ignorance. All Bloomberg and his staff have to do is claim there is no coordination and that Mike Bloomberg himself is not running the organizations.
So when Bloomberg refers to these groups as his organizations, that tosses out a lot of those arguments. Bloomberg isn't just the founder or top donor. He sees these organizations as belonging to him.
Until Bloomberg's campaign releases their FEC paperwork, it is impossible to say whether the campaign's coordination with Everytown/Moms Demand is legal. For all we know, they are complying with the law.
Michael Bloomberg is the wealthiest candidate ever to run for President. He has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on his campaign so far and he hasn't even secured a single delegate yet.
If Trump can be investigated on campaign finance violations for talking to a foreign leader about a political opponent, then Michael Bloomberg should obviously be investigated for using the biggest gun control organization in the country to further his political campaign...