- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

As New York Democrats go to the polls in the state’s crucial primary Tuesday, Sen. Bernard Sanders has launched an all-out attack on his opponent’s fundraising tactics, saying the Hillary Clinton campaign is “bending campaign finance rules to their breaking point” and urging the Democratic Party to intervene.

Mr. Sanders specifically objects to the Clinton campaign holding joint fundraisers with the Democratic National Committee and other party arms. The Sanders campaign argues the money from such events — including last weekend’s Hollywood fundraiser hosted by George Clooney — purportedly is meant to help Democrats in House and Senate races but that almost all of it ends up in the hands of the Clinton campaign.

By hosting joint fundraisers, the Clinton campaign and the Democratic Party are able to raise more money, and the Sanders camp argues such a system allows the former secretary of state to skirt individual donation limits and other finance regulations.

“Bernie 2016 is concerned that, at best, the joint fundraising committee’s spending on direct mail and online advertising appears to represent an impermissible in-kind contribution from the DNC and the participating state party committees to” the Clinton campaign, Brad Deutsch, counsel to the Sanders campaign, wrote in an open letter to the DNC late Monday. “At worst, using funds received from large-dollar donors who have already contributed the $2,700 maximum to [the Clinton campaign] may represent an excessive contribution to [the Clinton campaign] from these individuals.”

The Sanders campaign quickly followed up with a fundraising pitch of its own, asking donors to help fight the Clinton money machine.

“Our opponent is bending campaign finance rules to their breaking point. … This is distressing, but it’s probably to be expected. The Clinton campaign has raised the majority of its money from people giving the maximum amount of money under the law and her super PACs have raised more than $15 million from Wall Street and the financial industry alone,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver wrote in a fundraising pitch.

The Clinton campaign shot back that the attacks are “irresponsible and poisonous,” and pointed out that President Obama used similar joint fundraising structures with the DNC in both 2008 and 2012.

They argue the Sanders campaign, trailing badly in the delegate count and bracing for a loss in New York Tuesday, has become desperate.

“This latest incident is part of a troubling pattern of behavior — occurring just as Bernie’s mathematical odds of winning the nomination dwindle toward zero — in which Sanders and his team are not just debating us on issues (which we all agree is perfectly fair), but rather attacking Hillary Clinton’s character, integrity, and motivations,” Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook wrote in a memo Monday night.

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