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Andrew Yang's Offer Raises Legal Questions

He's giving people money out of campaign funds, which gets a little dicey
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 13, 2019 3:29 PM CDT
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Andrew Yang is interviewed Thursday night after a Democratic presidential primary debate in Houston.   (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

(Newser) – Andrew Yang's first step in his plan to give Americans $1,000 per month is receiving scrutiny not just for the cost, or its potential effectiveness in boosting the economy, but its legality. Yang said in the Democratic debate Thursday that he wants to get a head start by handing out checks to 10 Americans monthly for the next year. The potential problem is that the money would come out of campaign funds. That fact got experts thinking:

  • This is probably legal in terms of election law provided Yang refrains from asking recipients for their votes, the New York Times reports. Campaigns aren't allowed to trade anything of value for votes. One expert can't recall this issue coming up before.
  • Officials would have to decide if the expense would exist if Yang weren't a candidate for office, because it's against the rules to use campaign money for personal expenses. Campaign donations need to be spent on campaigns, one expert said, "and not on somebody’s car payment." Yang's campaign said the payments are an attempt to educate voters about his proposal, so the cost would not exist if he weren't a candidate, and so are legal.

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