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Did Rosie O’Donnell give illegal campaign contributions to Democrats?

Rosie O'DonnellPhoto: ABC

The New York Post is accusing Rosie O’Donnell of giving campaign contributions over the legal limit to five different political campaigns.

The Post found campaign filings that showed that O’Donnell gave more than the federal limit of $2700, using the liberal fundraising site ActBlue.

O’Donnell said that she was doing “nothing nefarious,” and made the donations in smaller amounts, assuming that the campaigns wouldn’t accept over the legal limit.

“If $2,700 is the cut off — [candidates] should refund the money,” she told the Post. “I don’t look to see who I can donate most to… I just donate assuming they do not accept what is over the limit.”

The Post found that she gave $2950 to Adam Schiff’s primary campaign, $3450 to Omar Vaid’s primary campaign, $3600 to Conor Lamb’s special election campaign, $4200 to Lauren Underwood’s primary campaign, and $4700 to Doug Jones’s special election campaign.

Vaid’s campaign has already said that it recorded some of O’Donnell’s contributions to the wrong election and that she did not actually over-donate to them.

Jones’s campaign reported the over-donations in its campaign filings, and Lamb’s campaign has already said that the $900 in excessive donations would be refunded to O’Donnell. The other two campaigns have not commented on the matter.

“My anxiety is quelled by donating to those opposing trump [and] his agenda — especially at night — when most of these were placed,” O’Donnell said.

Campaign finance expert Brendan Fischer said that the over-donations may have been “reporting errors.” Under Federal Election Commission (FEC) rules, campaigns can designate part of a donation to another election – like a general election if the donation comes during a primary – or assign part of the contribution to a donor’s spouse.

Fischer said that it was a “fairly common practice” for donors to give over the $2700 limit during primary campaigns.

“If there’s a pattern of a campaign committee accepting a significant number of excessive contributions or a donor number of excessive contributions, then the FEC may seek some sort of penalties,” Fischer said.

The Post also accused O’Donnell of donating under four different names, but WJLA in Washington, D.C. says that she was just using variations of her name, which Fischer said was “not uncommon” in campaign finance.

For her part, O’Donnell responded to the report by saying that she’s giving even more money.

The right has been comparing the accusations to those that got wingnut commentator Dinesh D’Souza convicted of a felony in 2014. D’Souza was accused of donating $20,000 to Senate candidate Wendy Long’s campaign by telling his friends to donate money to her campaign and then reimbursing them. He was also charged with making false statements to the FEC about those contributions.

D’Souza was sentenced to five years probation.

“What’s going to happen to Rosie is going to be a very interesting question of political equity,” he said.

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