For many, it would seen like the political equivalent to a democratic dominatrix contract for a candidate to help pay off the debt of another candidate — money used in relentless campaign attacks largely targeting him for over seventeen months. Yet, for months, aides to Hillary Clinton have been insisting that Obama help pay off the more than $20 million — much of it spent attacking him and his qualifications. To the astonishment of many, Clinton adviser and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has indicated that they may just do that. There is an interesting legal reason, however, why this issue is so pressing for Clinton: if she does not pay herself back the money that she loaned to the campaign by ($11.4 million is money out of her own accounts) by August 28th, she can only be reimbursed for $250,000.
Daschle went public this week to say that paying off Clinton’s personal debt is “on the table” because
:Obviously we want to help $250,000 each other.” As a neutral in the race, I find that position a bit curious. Obama’s contributors probably did not anticipate their money going to Clinton, who many obviously despise and blame for drawing out the campaign to the advantage of John McCain. Whether this is true or not, there is a wee problem if such funds are used to pay off Clinton.
There is also the interesting element of where the money came from. Various reporters have detailed how much of this money is derived from shared accounts with Bill Clinton who has been criticized over very shady business associates. Bill Clinton continues to refuse to disclose the full extent of these dealings. This money would go directly into the personal accounts of Hillary and Bill Clinton — no doubt drawing criticism over the appearance of a quid pro quo for her support.
It is only the personal funds that are truly at issue. Under federal rules, she can simply ask donors to redesignate $23 million that they gave for the general election to be used to pay off her primary debt. That is more than enough. If this is correct, the entire arrangement with Obama would be to raise money to go directly to Hillary Clinton personally.
The devil is in the details on this issue. It remains a question of how the support is given. If Obama were to attend fundraisers for Clinton and encourage his donors to give generously, there should be no serious objections heard. After all, Clinton ran a very powerful campaign and broke barriers for women in the process. However, direct assistance would be more problematic on a legal level.
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