An analysis by the New York Post published Saturday revealed liberal comedian Rosie O'Donnell has regularly broken campaign finance laws by over-donating to Democratic candidates.
What are the details?
According to the Post's analysis, O'Donnell has regularly broken a law that limits an individual's donations to just $2,700 per candidate per election. The limit applies separately to primaries, generals and runoffs. It is not a cumulative limit.
The donations included:
- $4,700 to Democrat Doug Jones for the Alabama special election. Jones, now a U.S. senator, ran against Roy Moore.
- $3,600 to Democrat Conor Lamb's special election in Pennsylvania in March against Rick Saccone.
- $2,950 to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) for his primary this year.
- $4,200 to Lauren Underwood, a Democratic congressional candidate, for her primary.
- $3,450 to Omar Vaid, a Democratic congressional candidate from Staten Island and Brooklyn, for his primary.
According to the Post, O'Donnell together gave $5,400 beyond what is allowed by law.
Lamb's campaign said it would notify O'Donnell of her "error" and either refund her the money or allow her to roll it over to Lamb's November election.
Meanwhile, Vaid's campaign told the Post it "inadvertently designated" some of O'Donnell's money to the "wrong election" and would amend their campaign finance filings.
Will O'Donnell be prosecuted?
While both campaigns and donors are responsible for following all campaign finance laws, experts told the Post that O'Donnell likely won't go to jail for her over-donations.
"Donors are rarely fined for excess contributions and then only if they are hiding the donations from the recipients. Campaigns generally are not penalized for isolated contributions over a limit. However, multiple excessive donations may lead to an investigation. Fines could result in such cases," prominent campaign finance lawyer Jan Witold told the Post.
How did O'Donnell respond?
In an email to the Post, O'Donnell said the over-donations were "nothing nefarious" and claimed, "I was not choosing to over donate."
"If 2700 is the cut off — [candidates] should refund the money. I don’t look to see who I can donate most to," she explained. "I just donate assuming they do not accept what is over the limit."
O'Donnell said she donates often via ActBlue, an online liberal fundraising platform.
"My anxiety is quelled by donating to those opposing trump [and] his agenda — especially at night — when most of these were placed," she said.
Indeed, as the Post reported, O'Donnell donated more than $90,000 to 50 candidates and committees during the 2017-2018 election cycle.