Latest News 05-01-2024 00:12 10 Views

Biden challenger Dean Phillips faces FEC complaint lodged by left-wing group

A left-wing watchdog group has accused the presidential campaign of Rep. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., of illegally coordinating with a super PAC.

Campaign for Accountability on Wednesday announced that it has filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), demanding an investigation into Phillips' campaign, the super PAC Pass the Torch USA Inc. and former Republican strategist Steve Schmidt for alleged violations of federal election law.

The complaint alleges that Schmidt flouted election regulations when he formed Pass the Torch USA Inc. just two weeks after leaving an advisory role with the campaign. The non-profit organization asserts evidence 'strongly suggests' that he made $450,000 in coordinated communications with the campaign. 

Campaign for Accountability claims the PAC falsely reported the communications as an independent expenditure and 'failed to disclose as in-kind contributions.' 

'Candidates and their committees cannot coordinate strategy with super PACs. When the architect of the Phillip’s campaign suddenly moves over to lead a super PAC supporting Phillip’s candidacy the moment the ink on the blueprint is dry, the coordination is clear,' said Michelle Kuppersmith, Campaign for Accountability executive director. 

The FEC complaint was first reported by Axios.

In a statement, the Phillips campaign called the allegations 'baseless.' 

'The complaint is baseless and does not allege a single specific example of coordination,' a campaign spokesman told Fox News Digital. 'All it takes is one look at our paid TV ads to see how different the strategies of these two entities are. Regardless, we can say without question that the campaign has at all times complied with the law and has not engaged in any coordination with Pass the Torch, Steve Schmidt or any other party.'

Campaign for Accountability noted that Pass the Torch ran an ad campaign that echoed themes from Phillips' campaign, including the message 'It's time to pass the torch to a new generation of American leaders.' The group said this message was developed by Schmidt for Phillips, who is challenging President Biden for the 2024 Democratic presidential nomination. 

'If the communications by Pass the Torch had been created, produced or distributed after substantial discussions between Schmidt and Phillips, it would constitute a prohibited coordinated communication,' the group said. 

The complaint suggests that alleged improper coordination between Pass the Torch and the Phillips campaign may have violated FEC rules against accepting prohibited contributions and reporting requirements for in-kind contributions. 

'The FEC should immediately investigate whether Schmidt, Pass the Torch, and Dean 24 violated the law and, if so, seek appropriate sanctions,' Kuppersmith said. 

Phillips launched his long-shot bid to challenge Biden in October but so far has not gained much traction in the polls against the incumbent president. 

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