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4/26/2005

How Hillary Clinton seems to have broken the Campaign Finance Laws

Under the arcane rules of the Federal Election Commission at the time, campaigns could use soft money to pay for fund-raising events — provided the gathering's costs came to 40 percent or less of the total of hard money raised. (Soft money was far easier to raise: Donors could give up to $25,000 of soft money, but only $1,000 of hard money).

Hillary's Hollywood gala that raised $1 million in hard money that August. This meant that the campaign could use soft money to pay for all costs up to $400,000. David Rosen conveniently reported to the campaign treasurer that the event did, indeed, cost $400,000, avoiding the necessity of spending any hard money on the affair.

But the federal indictment of Rosen, FBI affidavits and the testimony of the event organizers — Peter Paul and Aaron Tonkin — all confirm that the extravaganza's true cost was at least $1.2 million. Press leaks suggests that the feds may have Rosen on tape acknowledging that he understated the cost of the event on purpose.

Here's why he would have done it: If the real cost of the event were $1.2 million instead of $400,000, the campaign would have had to use hard money to make up the difference. The Hillary Clinton campaign would have had $800,000 less of hard money to spend running TV ads and funding get-out-the-vote operations.

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