If you’re thinking about breaking the law and prefer not to spend any time in court, you may want to check into registering as a Democrat. The latest person in our hit parade of folks who appear to have broken the law but somehow fail to attract the interest of the authorities is none other than soon to be retired Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. Before we get too carried away here, though, it’s worth noting that the law which Reid is accused of breaking isn’t exactly up there on the list with Grand Theft Auto. His office sent out a fundraising letter a couple of years ago which failed to carry a mandatory warning about donations. (Washington Examiner)
The Federal Election Commission, which considered legal action against former Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee for joking about fundraising, won’t punish Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid for admitting to violating an election law.
The reason: It’s not worth the effort.
The agency voted 4-0 against pursuing action after FEC lawyers wrote a four-page memo that said Reid’s fundraising committee admitted to failing to comply with an election law requirement, but that it wasn’t worth the time or money to prosecute.
At issue was a fundraising memo Reid’s team did for 2014 Nevada lieutenant gubernatorial candidate Lucy Flores. She lost in a landslide.
That fundraising letter was almost a non-issue on a number of levels. As the report indicates, it seems that most of the people who received it either didn’t even bother reading it or threw it away immediately thereafter. It generated a grand total of 62 donations, mostly in small dollar amounts, and the candidate who was to be the beneficiary of the donations was beaten badly in the election anyway. The rule which the FEC determined Reid violated (52 U.S.C. § 30125(e)(1)(B) ) states the following:
A candidate, individual holding Federal office, agent of a candidate or an individual holding Federal office, or an entity directly or indirectly established, financed, maintained or controlled by or acting on behalf of 1 or more candidates or individuals holding Federal office, shall not-
solicit, receive, direct, transfer, or spend funds in connection with any election other than an election for Federal office or disburse funds in connection with such an election unless the funds-
(i) are not in excess of the amounts permitted with respect to contributions to candidates and political committees under paragraphs (1), (2), and (3) of section 30116(a) of this title; and
(ii) are not from sources prohibited by this Act from making contributions in connection with an election for Federal office.
Since Reid was a federal office holder he couldn’t legally solicit campaign donations for the woman running for state office (Lieutenant Governor) unless the letter contained a disclaimer about ensuring donations complied with federal law in that regard. They forgot to put the disclaimer on the letter. So yes, the FEC is correct in saying the Reid violated that law, but it’s not as if he was amassing illegal contributions or spending them improperly. In the end, even if a contributor does make an illegal donation, the burden falls on them anyway. (Ignorance of the law is still no excuse.) So really, this wasn’t exactly what Joe Biden would probably call a Big Effing Deal.
But it does add one more brick to the wall of public perception which holds that there’s one set of rules for the politically powerful and another for everyone else. When Huma Abedin was recommended for prosecution by the State Department IG on charges of embezzlement, the charge was tossed in the trash because it wouldn’t be worth it to prosecute her. And by now we all know what happened (or more accurately put, didn’t happen) to Hillary Clinton. Reid was found by the FEC to be in violation of the law, be it ever so minor, and he got the same treatment.
Good work if you can get it.