A Boston law firm has been caught in a straw-donor scheme, involving millions of dollars funneled to Democrats.
Hillary Clinton’s campaign is returning thousands of dollars in donations linked to what may be one of the largest straw-donor schemes ever uncovered.
A small law firm that has given money to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Harry Reid, President Obama and many others is accused of improperly funneling millions of dollars into Democratic Party coffers. The program was exposed by the Center for Responsive Politics and the same team of Boston Globe investigative reporters featured in the movie “Spotlight.”
The Thornton Law Firm has just 10 partners, but dollar for dollar, it’s one of the nation’s biggest political donors, reports CBS News correspondent Tony Dokoupil.
But according to the firm’s own documents – leaked by a whistleblower — days or even hours after making these donations, partners received bonuses matching the amount they gave.
“Once the law firm knew that we had these records, they didn’t deny that this was the case,” said Scott Allen, Boston Globe’s Spotlight editor.
“If you give a donation and then somebody else reimburses you for that contribution, that is a clear violation of the spirit and the letter of the law at the state and federal levels,” Allen added.
Federal law limits partnerships, like the Thornton Law Firm, to a maximum donation of $2,700 per candidate. But campaign finance watchdogs say the firm used its individual partners as straw donors, allowing it to funnel money to campaigns well above that legal limit.
“Straw donor reimbursement systems are something both the FEC and the Department of Justice take very seriously, and people have gone to jail for this,” Center for Responsive Politics editorial director Viveca Novak said.
The Spotlight team and the Center for Responsive Politics looked at donations from three of the firm’s partners from 2010 to 2014. The trio and one of their wives gave $1.6 million, mostly to Democrats. Over the same period, they received $1.4 million back in bonuses.
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