Tom Perez’s tenure as the Chairman of the Democratic Party has gotten off to a bad start. First, he was criticized for his frequent use of cuss wordsin his Party Unity Tour speeches.
Then he got knocked by his own partyfor doing a lousy job of fundraising, a primary responsibility of a party chair. Now a watchdog group, The Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission alleging that he mishandled the leftover campaign funds from his race forDNC Chairman.
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In 2016, Perez established “Team Tom,” an organization under 26 U.S.C. § 527 in order to raise money and make expenditures in his race to become DNC Chairman. A month after being elected DNC Chair in February, 2017, Perez used over $27,000 in campaign funds to pay off the debts of his former opponents (Jamie Harrison, Jehmu Green and Sally Boynton) who dropped out of the chairman’s race and later supported Perez’s candidacy. Campaign finance laws stipulate that national party committees and their agents are prohibited from using non-federal funds. Since funds raised and spent by “Team Tom” were non-federal funds and Chairman Perez directed those funds to his former opponents while in his official capacity at the DNC, both the DNC and Perez broke multiple campaign finance laws.
“The laws applicable in this case exist to prevent political extortion and corruption, which is why the Supreme Court has explained the importance of the Act’s applicability to national party committees and party officers,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT). “Therefore, we are calling on the FEC to immediately investigate and enforce the law because allowing this behavior to go unpunished opens the door for a new level of corruption in party elections, namely offering campaign cash for support from former opponents,” Arnold added.