Rosie O'Donnell could be in trouble with the Federal Election Commission after the New York Post revealed the comedian has regularly exceeded the legal limit in donating to progressive Democrats running for office.
According to the Post, which conducted an extensive investigation of candidates' FEC filings, O'Donnell has routinely donated more than the FEC allows: a mere $2,700 per candidate per election cycle. Donors are free to give amounts exceeding that $2,700 limit to super PACs or other organizations supporting the particular candidate, but must limit all personal donations.
Using the online donation platform ActBlue, O'Donnell admits to donating to candidates who vocally oppose President Donald Trump's agenda, but says she assumed that if she donated more than the legal limit, the candidates would return the money.
To that end, she gave Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, who challenged Judge Roy Moore, about $2,000 more than was legal. She gave Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb, who won a special election last March, $900 more than was allowed. And that's just the beginning; O'Donnell says she gave more than $50,000 to candidates in just the last cycle.
O'Donnell claims the overages were all a mistake, telling the Post she did "nothing nefarious."
"I was not choosing to over donate," she said. “If 2700 is the cut off — [candidates] should refund the money,” she wrote. “I don’t look to see who I can donate most to … I just donate assuming they do not accept what is over the limit.”
When the Post asked how much O'Donnell donated to various candidates, she told them that she has "no idea" and that she assumed Act Blue and others “limit donations to the max allowed.” Her brother, Tim, she says, handles her finances and makes the donations.
But if she was ignorant of the limitations, someone was oddly careful about making sure the overages went unnoticed — at least temporarily. "O’Donnell gave a combined $5,400 in contributions over the limit to the five candidates, and used five different New York addresses and four variations of her name," the Post reports.
The FEC takes these situations seriously, but it's not likely that O'Donnell will be punished too harshly. Usually, the FEC levies fines in cases of extreme negligence, but where the amounts are small, as here, the federal body typically asks that candidates either return the money or put the overage amount into accounts serving future campaigns.