On Saturday, men, women and children in Queens participated in a 5k "Family Fun Run" with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which was billed as being an event supporting the "Green New Deal." What a lot of the runners didn't know, apparently, was that they were also becoming political donors to her campaign.
The New York Post reported on Sunday that the $11,000 raised as "registration fees" were actually taken as political donations, and the print on that was very fine, indeed.
The Post interviewed various participants in the run, each of whom expressed their belief that they were running in support of the Green New Deal or to "raise awareness."
A vaguely worded notices on AOC's Facebook page — saying that the run would support "U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez & the Green New Deal" — worsened the confusion.
But the fine print on a third event-related website revealed the truth.
"Registration fees are contributions to AOC for Congress," reads the legal disclosure on aoc5k.com, which lists the Federal Election Commission rules that donors must follow.
"It was a campaign fundraiser," Ocasio-Cortez spokesman Corbin Trent confirmed.
The participants paid more than $11,000 all told.
Even kids as young as 3 became unknowing political donors — ponying up $20 fees to join a kids' 1k.
Lest you think it a minor difference -- and by the way it isn't, there are many people who believe in supporting causes but not donating money to campaigns -- the extra wrinkle is that it may actually have been a violation of the law, in that parents can't legally contribute to a campaign on behalf of their child. That's an FEC rule to prevent people trying to get around maximum donations.
Of course no one in the Fun Run was in danger of hitting the max on just fees alone (although hopefully no one had already hit it before filing their fee), but in principle it was possible.
Trickery is generally frowned on where campaign donations are concerned, and that is equally true of a lack of transparency that misleads. And some folks did feel misled, as the Post reports.
"The site says it's to benefit her environmental plan," said one supporter who would not give his name. "If it is going to go directly to her campaign they should have said so."
The Post reporter also asked Rep. Ocasio-Cortez about it during the run. Neither she nor her team were too thrilled about being challenged by the media, a common reaction for the New York first-term Congresswoman. Watch:
Read the rest here, including more quotes from the runners. It may sound small potatoes at only 11 grand, but these election laws and rules are there for all of us, and when certain other political parties run afoul of them, be sure that CNN and MSNBC make it known.