As the power of dark money in our political system rapidly grows and the Koch Brothers prepare to dump $900 million dollars into GOP coffers this next election cycle, the Department of Justice has decided to make a strong statement to remind everyone that while the FEC is crippled by partisanship, someone is still watching.
Tyler Harber, a Republican campaign manager for Chris Perkin’s campaign to unseat Rep. Gerry Connoley (D-VA), was convicted to two years in prison by a federal court for simultaneously coordinating an election campaign and a Super PAC at the same time. Harber shamefully admitted that “I did it, it was wrong when I did it, and I knew it was wrong when I did it.”
But in an alarming statement, Harber added that “it was something I had seen other people do. … These folks didn’t get caught.” It will come as no surprise to find this illegal practice widespread on the Republican side of politics, where corruption has penetrated the very party culture.
Leslie R. Caldwell, assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, made it clear that Loretta Lynch’s DOJ is watching: “As the first conviction for illegal campaign coordination, this case stands as an important step forward in the criminal enforcement of federal campaign finance laws. Illegal campaign coordination can be difficult to detect, which is why we strongly encourage party or campaign insiders to come forward and blow the whistle.”
It’s vitally important that the DOJ takes up the mantle of defending our democracy, as candidates like Jeb Bush cheat the system and unofficially campaign around the country, collecting millions unrestricted by campaign finance limitations and allowing his Super PAC to manage his campaign. We can’t let the Republicans buy themselves a Presidency with dark money and illegal coordination.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.