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Professor La Raja talks about U.S. Sen. Warren in the Herald

"Liz Warren tarnishing image with money deal"

Matt Stout Thursday, November 09, 2017

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren is boosting her bulging campaign war chest through a joint fundraising deal with her political action committee and the state party that’s funneled nearly $2 million to her re-election bid in just nine months.

It’s an arrangement similar to the one Hillary Clinton had with the Democratic National Committee that drew fire from Warren, who said it showed the party’s national primary was stacked against Bernie Sanders.

Donors have been cutting five-figure checks to the Elizabeth Warren Action Fund since it launched in January as a joint fundraising committee with her own PAC for a Level Playing Field and the Mass. Democratic State Committee.

It’s transferred more than $1.86 million to her own re-election campaign — or 15 percent of her $11.9 million total haul in 2017 — through an agreement that guarantees her the first $5,400 of any donation, her PAC the next $5,000 and the state party the proceeds there­after up to $10,000.

Through June, the most recent filing available, the committee reported sending just $124,000 to the PAC and about $11,600 to the state party.

While legal and increasingly popular, such agreements can be problematic, as evidenced by the controversy around the joint deal between the DNC and Clinton, which gave her campaign tight control over the party’s operations during the primary.

Warren just last week said the Democratic primary was “rigged,” and her embrace of a joint agreement could mar her image as a campaign finance reformer, said Ray La Raja, a University of Massachusetts Amherst political science professor

“She’s doing something that she has criticized the party for doing in the past,” La Raja said, adding it could be seen as a “back-door strategy” for more cash.

“She’s trying to pull off a double pirouette, with winning the Senate and then turning around and possibly running for president (in 2020). She needs money, and she’s taking advantage of it, even though she’s a phenomenal fundraiser.”

Warren’s campaign, then that would be problematic,” said Brendan Fischer, a lawyer with the Campaign Legal Center.

A state party official said they’re focused on building a coordinated campaign that “would benefit all of the people on the ticket.” In an email, a Warren spokeswoman didn’t address specific questions, saying: “We are running a grassroots campaign across Massachusetts.”

 

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