How Possible Illegal Campaign Contributions Are Hurting Democrats’ Chances Of Retaking The Senate

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This is something that Democrats locked in tight Senate races don’t want to deal with in the last week before the election.

So far, at least 13 politicians from across the country, including nine U.S. Senate candidates, are returning illegal campaign contributions after a bombshell report came out over the weekend that revealed a major Democratic donor may have illegally reimbursed partners for campaign contributions.

Illegal Campaign Contributions

The Boston Globe and Center for Responsive Politics reported on Saturday that from 2010 through 2014, the Massachusetts-based Thornton Law Firm gave partners bonus checks that mirrored their political contributions, which is a potential violation of federal law.

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New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan received about $38,000 from the law firm during the current election cycle and an additional $13,000 during her 2014 gubernatorial run.

The Globe explained the donation process using partner David Strouss’ donation to Hassan’s 2014 campaign. On June 10, 2014, Strouss gave Hassan’s campaign $1,000 and six days later, gave $2,500 to the John Walsh campaign in Minnesota.

According to the CRP, an independent, nonpartisan organization that analyzes campaign finances, Thornton records show that on June 16, 2014, Strouss received a “bonus” of $3,500.

This reimbursement program could violate federal and state laws because repaying donors could hide the actual source of the contributions, allowing them to exceed contribution limits.

In 2016, Thornton Law Firm has contributed more than $775,000 to federal candidates, most of them Democrats, according to the CRP.

Strouss and fellow partner Garrett Bradley, as well as founding partner Michael Thornton and his wife, donated nearly $1.6 million to Democratic Party fundraising committees and dozens of politicians. The Globe reports that the partners received $1.4 million in “bonuses” with more than 280 of the contributions being matched bonuses paid within 10 days.

The top two Democratic recipients in the current election cycle are former Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold and Hassan. Feingold received $45,000 and Hassan received $38,000, according to the CRP.

In New Hampshire, the state Republican Party was quick to criticize the “tainted donations” to Hassan during her close race against incumbent Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

Ayotte’s campaign called on Hassan to return the cash.

“This is a troubling pattern that raises serious ethical and legal questions, and Hassan must immediately return this money,” said Liz Johnson, Ayotte’s spokeswoman, in a Sunday statement.

Hassan’s campaign on Sunday said they were unaware of Thornton’s ethical issues, and the campaign is promising to return the contributions. The campaign said it will be returning $51,000, which includes $13,000 from Hassan’s 2014 gubernatorial campaign.</