Clin­ton hasn’t won the nom­i­na­tion, but she’s al­ready raised mil­lions for the Demo­cratic Party

Democrats are tak­ing ad­van­tage of new rules lift­ing gift lim­its “There’s more con­fi­dence … this money will be used to ben­e­fit her”

Bloomberg Businessweek (Asia) - - CONTENTS - −Bill Al­li­son The bot­tom line Tak­ing ad­van­tage of a 2014 Supreme Court rul­ing, Hil­lary Clin­ton has given $4.6 mil­lion to the DNC and state com­mit­tees.

Al­though the pri­mary sea­son is just get­ting un­der way, Hil­lary Clin­ton has al­ready started rais­ing money as if she’s the nom­i­nee. In Septem­ber, Clin­ton’s cam­paign and the Demo­cratic Na­tional Com­mit­tee cre­ated the Hil­lary Vic­tory Fund, a ve­hi­cle for so­lic­it­ing large do­na­tions and dis­tribut­ing the pro­ceeds to her cam­paign, the DNC, and 33 state par­ties that have agreed to

ac­cept money from Clin­ton’s fund. (Some states, like Iowa, aren’t par­tic­i­pat­ing.) Since then, Clin­ton has raised $26.9 mil­lion for the fund. That in­cludes at least 24 con­tri­bu­tions of more than $300,000 apiece, some from her most loyal donors: Florida bil­lion­aire S. Daniel Abra­ham, Los An­ge­les en­ter­tain­ment mogul Haim Sa­ban and his wife, Ch­eryl, and fi­nancier Ge­orge Soros.

Joint fundrais­ing com­mit­tees are noth­ing new; in 2012, both Mitt Rom­ney and Pres­i­dent Obama set them up af­ter they se­cured their party’s nom­i­na­tion. The 2014

Supreme Court de­ci­sion McCutcheon

v. Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion ef­fec­tively elim­i­nated lim­its on giv­ing to party and cam­paign com­mit­tees in each two-year elec­tion cy­cle, set at $117,000 in 2012. Now, deep-pock­eted donors can give hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars each year.

The only other way to make such large con­tri­bu­tions is by giv­ing to out­side groups like su­per PACs, which can take un­lim­ited do­na­tions but aren’t al­lowed to co­or­di­nate di­rectly with can­di­dates. “This is money the can­di­date con­trols,” says Sheila Krumholz, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Re­spon­sive Pol­i­tics, a cam­paign-fi­nance watch­dog.

The DNC urged can­di­dates to take ad­van­tage of the new rules by cre­at­ing joint fundrais­ing com­mit­tees in 2015 for the ben­e­fit of them­selves and the party, be­fore they know whether they’ll win the nom­i­na­tion. The first $2,700 of any con­tri­bu­tion to the Hil­lary Vic­tory Fund goes straight to Clin­ton’s cam­paign. The next $33,400 goes to the DNC, and the re­main­der is split evenly among par­tic­i­pat­ing states.

Bernie San­ders set up his joint fundrais­ing com­mit­tee, the Bernie Vic­tory Fund, in Novem­ber. So far it’s re­ported only one con­tri­bu­tion, a $1,000 trans­fer from the DNC, which is the only en­tity aside from San­ders’s own cam­paign com­mit­tee des­ig­nated as a re­cip­i­ent of funds. No one in the crowded field of Repub­li­can can­di­dates has set up a sim­i­lar ve­hi­cle. “I ex­pect that there’s more con­fi­dence on the part of Clin­ton that this money will be used to ben­e­fit her,” Krumholz says.

So far, the Hil­lary Vic­tory Fund

has dis­trib­uted $2.9 mil­lion to state com­mit­tees. “Hil­lary’s al­ways made it a pri­or­ity to strengthen the party,” says Josh Sch­w­erin, a spokesman for her cam­paign. “She be­lieves in the im­por­tance of elect­ing Democrats up and down the bal­lot.”

DATA: FED­ERAL ELEC­TION COM­MIS­SION

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