York students accused of organising illegal fundraiser for Barack Obama

Claire Hazelgrove, a third year politics student and Labour parliamentary candidate, has been accused of attempting to illegally raise funds for US presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Her attempt to raise money through a drinks reception was discovered by conservative blogger Donal Blaney, who said it was a “flagrant breach of US election law”.

Hazelgrove, who worked for the Obama campaign this summer, organised a party on October 23 with Raf Sanchez, editor of Nouse, at Pitcher and Piano in York. The Facebook page for the event stated: “Ameri­can law says that foreign nationals can’t donate to political campaigns… But what we can do is have a party, pay £3 each and give the money to Raf, who is an American citizen… Raf can then donate the exact amount made at the party to the Obama campaign.”

Under the American Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), it is against the law for any “foreign national to contribute, donate or spend funds in connection with any federal, state, or local election in the United States.”

On October 15, Blaney posted a link to the Facebook event on his blog. He accused Hazelgrove of “co-hosting an event that is designed to raise funds for Barack Obama in a way that seeks to circumvent US electoral law.”  Hazel­grove then edited the Facebook event, reclassifying it as an ‘Obama supporter’s party (not fundraiser)’.

Blaney’s blog on October 16 suggested Hazelgrove and Sanchez would be prosecuted by the Federal Election Campaign.

In a joint statement Hazelgrove and Sanchez said: “As far as we know it is not a crime to have a bad idea and then not act on it in either this country or the United States. No money was exchanged and none will be. Nor did we solicit, it was just an idea we decided against.”

Hazelgrove remains a parliamentary candidate. At the time of going to print, Sanchez is understood to be preparing to resign from his editorial post.

7 comments

  1. What a compete bunch of muppets!

    I wouldn’t elect either of them to fart in a plastic bag, let alone be a constituency MP!

    Reply

  2. is it just me or does this article suggest that Raf is resigning from his role as editor, rather than simply coming to the end of his tenure as editor? I was under the impression that Raf’s year as editor was up, that he’d done an excellent job, and had passed the role onto someone else. The last sentence implies Raf is resigning due to a connection to this “fundraiser”

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  3. Sounds like conspiracy to break Federal election law whatever way you look at it and however it might be dressed up as just a “bad idea”.

    Raf may think it is not a crime to “have a bad idea” but if “having” that bad idea means conspiring to break the law then he’s sadly mistaken!

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  4. “As far as we know it is not a crime to have a bad idea and then not act on it in either this country or the United States. No money was exchanged and none will be. Nor did we solicit, it was just an idea we decided against.”

    Bit like George Osbourne!

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  5. I think this is all rather a mountain being made out of a molehill, however much a silly idea it was in the first place to so blatently do something that was clearly in breach of US electoral law. Both Raf and Claire obviously know that.

    I do however think that it would have been massively different had this event gone ahead, but the bottom line is that it didn’t. Donal Blaney (as much as some of what he blogs is quite useful to those of us on the ‘right’ of British politics) attempted to blow this minor incident out of proportion and it fell spectacularly on its arse.

    I think news is slow, to be perfectly honest.

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  6. And yes, ‘Mrs Blaney’, just like George Osbourne who was equally innocent.

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  7. What a refreshing PPC Claire Hazelgrove is.

    What politicians normally do after getting caught is to make highly unconvincing excuses and fail to take responsibility for their connivance… she hasn’t done that at all!

    Yes.

    Reply




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