During the 2017-2018 election cycle, Comedian Rosie O’Donnell donated more money to about five Democratic candidates than the law allows. O’Donnell admitted to donating the money, but offered multiple excuses of why she did it. Federal laws prevent anyone from donating more than $2,700 to a candidate per election cycle. O’Donnell claims that she donated money to various Democratic candidates to curb her anxiety about Donald Trump’s Administration.
She has been a huge critic of the president prior and during his presidency. The comedian has even began painting to express her dislike for President Trump. She also claimed her brother, Timothy, keeps track of her money. However, she did not indicate whether he knew she was excessively donating, restricts her ability to use or violating federal laws. Federal filings listed donations to at least five major Democratic candidates such as Rep. Adam Schiff from California. She donated $2,950 to his political campaign.
O’Donnell donated the most money to Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama. He ran for Senate to replace current Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Another candidate who their election, Rep. Conor Lamb, received $3,600. Other candidates who received too much money from O’Donnell includes Omar Vaid, who received $3,450, and Lauren Underwood. Underwood received $4,200 for her political campaign.
O’Donnell admitted she used the ActBlue, an online political fundraising platform, to make her donations. She claimed she assumed the online fundraising platform would stop her from donating more political contributions than allowed by federal law to one or more candidates. She responded to the fallout in an email dispensed to all media outlets. In the email, she claim if $2,700 is the cut off it should be up to the candidates to refund the money back.
She further claimed that she doesn’t look to see who she donated to in the past. Instead, she just donates the money assuming they won’t keep an amount that was over the federal limit. O’Donnell further claim that it was “nothing nefarious.” She did not purposefully choose to donate more than federal law allowed. Her anxiety decreases by donating to people opposing Trump and his agenda. For O’Donnell, this typically happens at night. Most of the money paid excessively to candidates occurred most of these the donations were sent.
The five Democratic candidates were not the only political donations she made during the 2017 to 2018 election year cycle. Those candidates were the only people the comedian gave too much money. During that year, she donated $90,000 to federal candidates in 50 states. It is unlikely that people like O’Donnell, who break federal laws donating an excessive amount of money to candidates, will not get into legal trouble.
Jan Witold Baran, a campaign finance lawyer from the D.C.-area, not affiliated with O’Donnell, said people who do this do not face legal trouble. Campaigns who receive the donations from one individuals aren’t penalized either. Instead, the multiple excessive donations given trigger a federal investigation. It is not known if O’Donnell will keep account of which political candidates she donates money to in the future or if she’ll keep excessively donating to one or more Democratic candidates.