Despite a wretched week for his primary opponent, Debbie Wasserman Schultz—her challenger isn’t happy.
Tim Canova, a law professor trying to take her out in her Aug. 30 Democratic primary, has already reaped a windfall from the leaked Democratic National Committee emails that precipitated her resignation and withdrawal from all convention duties. He told The Daily Beast that he raised nearly $100,000 in the 72 hours after the emails leaked. But Canova wants more than cash.
He wants blood.
The candidate said that his lawyers are looking into filing an FEC complaint regarding potential violations of campaign finance law.
Wasserman Schultz has given them a lot to work with; the leaked emails gave evidence that top DNC staffers strategized to undermine Sanders’ insurgent Democratic primary bid, ending any pretense of neutrality. Those revelations, in turn, gave a jolt of excitement to Canova’s campaign, along with a fundraising boost.
More importantly, they suggest that DNC staffers may have advised Wasserman Schultz on her primary contest. In one conversation, DNC spokesman Luis Miranda counsels Wasserman Schultz’s campaign spokesman, Ryan Banfill, on the wording of a statement responding to Bernie Sanders’ endorsement of Canova.
“Debbie Wasserman Schultz was using DNC resources to monitor my campaign and to strategize on how to respond to my campaign, which certainly looks like a violation of federal law,” he said. “I think there should be an investigation.”
Larry Noble of the Campaign Legal Center said conversations like that could raise red flags at the FEC. National party committees don’t typically take sides in primaries, so the rules governing their activity don’t get much attention. But Noble said the parties are still subject to $5000 contribution limits to anyone running in a House primary. That includes in-kind contributions of goods and services, like lending staffers’ time. And if DNC staffers did enough favors for Wasserman Schultz’s campaign that surpassed $5000 in value, it’s possible they broke the law. That would be a question for the FEC to answer.
“If it’s an in kind contribution, it would be subject to the same limits,” Noble said. “They’re subject to a contribution limit, so if they gave in kind contributions to her in excess of the contribution limit, then that could be a violation.”
“There’s a valid issue there,” he added.
Canova is much more worried about the content of the leaked DNC emails than about the means by which they leaked. FBI officials have expressed concerns to The Daily Beast that the Russian government is responsible to the hacks, and that they timed the emails’ release to do maximum damage to Clinton’s campaign.
“The release of emails just as the Democratic National Convention is getting underway this week has the hallmarks of a Russian active measures campaign,” David Shedd, a former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said earlier this week.
But Canova isn’t stressed about that, and said it sounds “like a conspiracy theory.”
“I’m glad they were disclosed, whoever was behind it,” he added. “It confirmed a lot of what folks had been suspecting about the DNC.”
A DNC spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.