The ghosts of 2016
In the aftermath of Hillary Clinton's loss in 2016, Green Party candidate Jill Stein asked for donations to mount a recount in three pivotal states where President Trump won by razor-thin margins. Nearly 161,000 donors sent her a total of more than $7.3 million, and 17 months after Trump was sworn in as president, Stein is still spending that dedicated 2016 recount money, The Daily Beast reports. It isn't entirely clear what she is spending it on, as her campaign hasn't filed a report with the Federal Election Commission since September 2017, but the campaign said on April 20 that it still had $932,178 in its 2016 recount account.
"Ongoing litigation, travel costs, and staff salaries are also likely to eat up whatever is left, meaning those who donated to Stein are unlikely to receive a once-promised chance to vote on how the post-recount money would be spent," writes Charles Davis at The Daily Beast. He runs down the known recount expenditures — mostly filing fees and attorney fees — plus the debatably relevant push to improve voting security for future elections and the legally and ethically questionable expenditures that could be seen as strengthening Stein's campaign.
The opacity is puzzling to sunlight-in-politics groups. "It is strange that they would just stop filing reports given they were a legitimate, professional campaign, and despite still having more than a million dollars in cash on hand," Andrew Mayersohn at the Center for Responsive Politics told The Daily Beast. The FEC is curious, too. "The failure to timely file this report may result in civil money penalties, suspension of matching funds, an audit, or legal enforcement action," the FEC wrote in a May 7 letter to Stein campaign treasurer Steven Welzer, noting pointedly that there is no grace period. Read more about the Stein recount money trail at The Daily Beast.