A supporter of Independent Senator Bernie Sanders is using public crowdfunding to solicit donations for his presidential campaign, possibly violating federal campaign laws for independent expenditures of a political action committee (PAC).
Keith A. Rubino, associated with Progressive Believers PAC and a Facebook group called Bernie Believers, is the individual who set-up the accounts at GoFundMe. There are at least two such fundraising accounts. Both are designed to solicit funds to advertise the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign in New York State.
The crowdfunding came to light in a tweet that included (“tagged”) Ben Jealous, former NAACP chair and venture capitalist who publicly endorsed Sanders in his bid for the nomination.
Rubino asserts that the GoFundMe accounts are legal. However, the Lawn Signs account includes a photo of the contract signed between Park Outdoor and Progressive Believers PAC.
Under campaign finance regulations, all PACs (political action committees) must be registered and submit reports to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
A search of the FEC for Keith Rubino did not return a result. Likewise a search for “Progressive Believers PAC” in the FEC Candidate and Committee Viewer found no such committee.
The rules regarding “Individual Expenditures” state the following:
While there is no limit on how much anyone may spend on an independent expenditure, the law does require persons making independent expenditures to report them and to disclose the sources of the funds they used.
The absence of the Progressive Believers PAC among fundraising entities in the FEC indicates that Rubino’s fundraising for the Sanders presidential campaign may not be legal.
Rubino uses his occupational email account at Oswego State University as his contact, which draws the public institution into political campaign funding, also contrary to FEC regulations.
Other photos at Rubino’s GoFundMe account show a Bernie Sanders promotional billboard in Oneida NY. and a pile of cash.