A major pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC that's raised tens of millions of dollars in support of the presumptive Democratic nominee has returned a questionable contribution it received from a Massachusetts construction company with federal government contracts — a situation first reported by the Center for Public Integrity.
Justin Barasky, a spokesman for Priorities USA Action, today confirmed to the Center for Public Integrity that the super PAC last week returned $200,000 it received in 2015 from Boston-based Suffolk Construction Company Inc. The Hill first reported the contribution return.
In an April 7 investigation headlined "How Citizens United is helping Hillary Clinton win the White House," the Center for Public Integrity detailed how the federal government had awarded Suffolk Construction more than $168.8 million worth of government contracts since fiscal year 2008, yet the company still made contributions to Priorities USA Action.
Earlier this year, officials at both Priorities USA Action and Suffolk Construction declined to answer questions from the Center for Public Integrity about Suffolk Construction's political contributions.
(Update, 12:29 p.m., July 6, 2016: The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, two Washington, D.C.-based campaign reform groups, have jointly filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Priorities USA Action and Suffolk Construction. The complaint accuses Priorities USA Action and Suffolk Construction of violating federal campaign laws and asks the FEC to initiate an investigation.)
(Update, 5:35 p.m., July 11, 2016: Suffolk Construction spokesman Dan Antonellis explained in an emailed statement that company officials believed the company's government contracts had ended when it contributed money in 2015 to Priorities USA Action. "Based on our internal accounting, the contract appeared to be completed ... We notified the Committee regarding the ambiguity and the funds were immediately returned,” the statement read.)
As a super PAC, Priorities USA Action may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to advocate for and against political candidates.
From January 2015 through May, Priorities USA Action has raised about $88 million, according to federal records. Millions of those dollars have come from so-called "dark money" entities, such as corporate entities and nonprofit groups, which aren't required to reveal information about the flesh-and-blood sources behind the contributions.
Clinton herself has railed against the influence of big money in politics.
“We have to end the flood of secret, unaccountable money that is distorting our election, corrupting our political process, drowning out the voices and votes of people,” Clinton said in a speech last year.