State Politics

Lawsuit claims Idaho Democratic Party part of money-laundering scheme to help Clinton

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a fundraiser in San Francisco in October 2016.
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a fundraiser in San Francisco in October 2016. AP

Dozens of state Democratic parties, including Idaho's, have been targeted by a federal lawsuit alleging they were part of an elaborate money-laundering scheme to benefit Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election.

The Committee to Defend the President, a political action committee backing President Donald Trump, accuses the Democratic National Committee and 40 Democratic state parties of an "unprecedented nationwide scheme to violate federal campaign finance law in which $84 million was effectively laundered over more than a year by the Hillary Victory Fund through dozens of state political party committees to the Democratic National Committee and, ultimately, to Hillary for America," according to a complaint it filed with the Federal Elections Commission on Dec. 15.

But the committee says the FEC has failed to act on the complaint, so on April 16, the group sued the FEC in federal court in Washington D.C. claiming its inaction is “arbitrary, capricious, contrary to law, and an abuse of discretion.”

Idaho’s portion of the alleged money-laundering operation was nearly $1.6 million, according to a paper trail of 13 reported transactions between November 2015 and November 2016:

The Hillary Victory Fund reported transferring $1.59 million to the Idaho State Democratic Party.

The state party reported receiving $1.49 million from the Hillary Victory Fund and transferring that amount to the DNC.

The DNC reported receiving $1.6 million from the state party.

The lawsuit offered no explanation of the $100,000 difference between the amount the Hillary Victory Fund said it transferred and the amount the Idaho party said it received. Nor did it say whether there was actually any difference between the $1.59 million the victory fund transferred and the $1.6 million the DNC received.

Of the 13 transactions, 10 showed transfers from Hillary Victory Fund whose amounts were matched by transfers from the state party to the DNC on the same dates.

But local party officials may not have even known about the transactions.

It is "reasonably possible the Idaho State Democratic Party had no prior knowledge of, or control over, these transfers because they were handled entirely by HVF, the DNC, HFA, [Hillary Victory Fund, Democratic National Committee, Hillary for America] and/or their treasurers," states the 101-page complaint.

The Idaho Democratic Party declined to comment.

Cynthia Sewell is Idaho Statesman's government and watchdog reporter. Contact her at (208) 377-6428, or @CynthiaSewell on Twitter.