‘The Commission should determine and impose appropriate sanctions for any and all violations…’
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, was hit with a new complaint this week alleging his campaign is violating federal election laws by employing foreign nationals in campaign advisory positions.
The complaint alleges that Sanders’ presidential campaign has employed three foreign nationals in “direct and serious” violation of Federal Election Commission regulations. Coolidge Reagan Foundation filed the complaint with the FEC, the Washington Free Beacon first reported.
The most notable foreign national working for Sanders is Maria Belén Sisa, an illegal immigrant from Argentina who is protected under DACA. She is the campaign’s deputy national press secretary, a senior-level advisory role.
“Senator Sanders and Bernie 2020 is permitting a foreign national, Ms. Sisa, to serve in an advisory position which allows her to directly or indirectly participate in the decision-making process of persons with regard to election-related activities in violation of FEC regulations,” the complaint alleges.
FEC regulations “prohibit foreign nationals from directing, dictating, controlling, or directly or indirectly participating in the decision-making process of any person with regard to any election-related activities,” the FEC website states. “Such activities include, the making of contributions, donations, expenditures, or disbursements in connection with any federal or nonfederal elections in the United States, or decisions concerning the administration of any political committee.”
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The complaint also points to the 2016 campaign, which employed Sisa as well as two other foreign nationals, Erika Andiola and Cesar Vargas, in advisory campaign positions, it says.
Like Sisa, both Vargas, the campaign’s national Latino outreach strategist, and Andiola, its press secretary for Latino outreach, were salaried employees of Bernie 2016. They were also both well-known immigration activists open about their status as Mexican immigrants and DACA recipients.
The complaint calls for the FEC to initiate an “immediate investigation” into Sanders’ 2016 and 2020 presidential campaigns, as well as take immediate action to halt any ongoing violations of federal election law.
“The Commission should determine and impose appropriate sanctions for any and all violations,” the complaint states. “Further, the Commission should enjoin respondents from any future violations and impose any necessary and appropriate remedies to ensure respondents’ future compliance with the Federal Election Campaign Act.”
It’s not immediately clear what penalties Sanders’ campaign could be subject to. However, FEC regulations plainly state that foreign nationals who violate the rules “may be subject to an FEC enforcement action, criminal prosecution, or both.”