Jay Jones for AG Accuses Herring of Illegal Scheme to Dodge Campaign Finance Reporting Laws

Files Complaint with VA Department of Elections


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Contact:
[email protected]

NORFOLK— Today, Jay Jones for Attorney General filed a campaign finance complaint with the Virginia Department of Elections to stop Herring for Attorney General’s illegal scheme to dodge campaign finance reporting laws and funnel unlimited donations to the candidate’s campaign through the Democratic Attorneys General Association while hiding the source of that funding.

This year, Herring has accepted over $800,000 in contributions from DAGA to pay for his media buys, staff salaries, polling, and digital ads. But DAGA has failed to file required disclosures with the state of Virginia that would detail this spending, which avoids disclosing the identities of major campaign donors to Herring and prevents Virginia primary voters from accessing the information the law mandates they receive.

Read the full complaint below:
Dear Commissioner Piper,

Attorney General Mark Herring’s campaign for re-election, Herring for Attorney General, is currently running an illegal scheme to improperly funnel unlimited contributions made to the Democratic Attorneys General Association, an out of state PAC, to his campaign operations and TV advertising buys without disclosing the source of that funding. This scheme clearly violates Virginia campaign finance law and deprives Virginia voters of important information about who is funding a candidate running for statewide office, and action must be taken to bring Herring’s operation into compliance.

In his campaign for re-election, Herring is dependent upon the Democratic Attorneys General Association for campaign funding and support. The Democratic Attorneys General Association PAC [DAGA PAC] is an out of state political committee registered with the Internal Revenue Service and not the Federal Election Commission. It has not registered in the state of Virginia, nor filed any campaign finance reports in Virginia this election cycle detailing its fundraising or expenditures.

Herring has received more than $800,000 in contributions from DAGA PAC, covering payroll, polling services, digital services, and TV ad buys, all occurring in calendar year 2021. Additionally, DAGA PAC has split at least $740,786 in television advertising buys with Herring for Attorney General, contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars more to his re-election effort.

Virginia campaign finance law clearly states that out of state political committees must register in Virginia upon making contributions totaling $9,999.99 in a calendar year:

An out-of-state political committee is free to make contributions up to $9,999.99 per calendar year, in the aggregate, to candidates and political committees registered in Virginia without having to register with the Virginia Department of Elections. However, once the committee’s total aggregate contributions reach $10,000 or more in a calendar year to Virginia candidates, then the committee must register with the Virginia Department of Elections and file a Statement of Organization for an Out of-State PAC.

In addition to registering, out of state political committees must report their contributors after hitting that threshold:

An out-of-state political committee must file a reporting of its contributors and a list of contributions made to candidates and political committees registered in Virginia on the same date in which it submits its Statement of Organization to the Virginia Department of Elections.

Subsequent reports are due on the same date in which the committee makes additional contributions to candidates or political committees registered in Virginia.

To date, as of June 1, 2021, DAGA PAC has failed to either register with the Virginia Department of Elections or report its contributors, despite breaching that threshold. The Democratic Attorneys General Association did register its campaign entity in Virginia in both the 2013 and 2017 elections and file reports detailing its activities, further demonstrating that they are required to do so, however has failed to do so in the 2021 cycle.

This is an illegal effort to hide the identities of major funders for Herring’s re-election campaign by funneling that money through DAGA, which has received millions of dollars in contributions from large corporations in recent years, including $50,000 from Dominion Energy, from whom Herring has pledged to refuse donations.

I urge the Virginia Department of Elections to take action to end this illegal scheme and require Herring for Attorney General and DAGA PAC to comply with state law and reveal their illegally hidden donors so that voters can make their choice for Virginia’s next attorney general with all the information the law mandates they receive.

Sincerely,

Jay Jones for Attorney General

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