Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief John Podesta plotted to out-raise Republicans by frightening wealthy donors into giving more money and getting former president Bill Clinton and President Obama to boost their numbers.
On May 3, 2015, Hillary Clinton emailed an article from the New York Times to her top campaign aides.
“In light of this predictable statement of the obvious, what do you suggest we do?” she asked cryptically. The email was publicly released as part of the ongoing WikiLeaks revelations from Podesta’s private email account.
The article focused on the gridlocked Federal Election Commission, suggesting that it would be unable to enforce policies against election abuse. Clinton appeared concerned that Republicans would take advantage of the commission deadlock to raise more money than her campaign.
Podesta admitted that the campaign needed to do more to compete with Republicans, specifically by focusing efforts on the officially endorsed Super PAC Priorities USA.
“Get Priorities functional. Use this to scare our people into giving bigger sums,” he wrote.
He also advised that it might be time to rely on Bill Clinton and Barack Obama to encourage bigger donations to the Super PAC, but added that the president was “prissy” about the ethics behind it.
“We may need to get WJC into the mix sooner,” Podesta wrote to Clinton. “We should also ask BHO to do more in light of this, although they are kind of prissy about how they approach this.”
Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook agreed. Raise as much money as possible and trash opponents if they cross the lines.
“I think we focus hard on raising as much as we can and then throw the kitchen sink at everyone who we believe steps over the line, understanding that has limited impact,” he wrote.
The Clinton campaign, however, spent a lot of time plotting for ways to stretch election laws to coordinate with Priorities USA.
In one email, campaign aides discussed using the pro-choice advocacy group EMILY’s List to send “smoke signals” for ad campaigns.
Clinton’s attorneys also focused on how campaign aides could legally refer donors to make bigger donations to Priorities USA.