“While volunteering with the Sanders campaign, the Australians engaged in political activities “including encouraging voter attendance at campaign events, recruiting volunteers, canvassing with volunteers, and planning events,” according to the FEC.
The Sanders campaign “treated the ALP delegates no differently from any other campaign out-of-town volunteers and was aware that they were receiving a stipend from the ALP,” the FEC added.
The ALP spent $16,140 for the Australians’ flights to the United States and $8,282 for their daily stipends. The FEC determined that amounted to a $24,422 “prohibited in-kind foreign contribution” the Sanders campaign accepted from the ALP.
A Sanders spokesperson said in a statement to WMUR that the campaign doesn’t think it broke any rules.
“During the course of the campaign, thousands and thousands of young people from every state and many other countries volunteered. Among them were seven Australian young people who were receiving a modest stipend and airfare from the Australian Labor Party so they could learn about American politics,” the spokesperson said.
“The folks on the campaign managing volunteers did not believe the stipend disqualified them from being volunteers.”
“In order to avoid a long and expensive fight with the FEC over the technical status of these young people, the campaign agreed to pay the FEC a small settlement but did not agree that it broke any rules,” the Sanders spokesperson added.
O’Brien told WMUR Tuesday he was “disappointed” the FEC did not make a connection between ALP and the Australian government.
“I’m disappointed that it’s not comprehensive,” O’Brien said of the FEC’s ruling. “It doesn’t go into the Australian government funding. And I’m disappointed that it doesn’t go with greater specificity into the actual things that they were doing. I’m disappointed that they didn’t go to what was the effect on the campaign.”
“It’s basically the Australian government using the conduit of a socialist party to assist the socialist candidate in the United States,” O’Brien said.