The Working Families Party (the "WFP") is under federal investigation and received a subpoena this past Monday regarding its operations and those of a for-profit organization called Data and Field Services. (Read this New York Times story from Wednesday, December 16th here.)
There have been allegations from private parties --- political opponents and such -- that Data and Field Services charged discounted fees to candidates endorsed by the WFP. The implication is that there has been some sort of illicit arrangement because the discounted fees provide an unfair, if not illegal, advantage to WFP-endorsed candidates.
How does an innocent, politically active person avoid becoming embroiled in a criminal investigation? What activities should the totally risk-averse person avoid? Now, here's the problem as I see it: One cannot see where the "line" is. Hence, the cautious approach must be to totally avoid political involvement, as no other course of action carries an assurance of personal safety.
Now do you see where the problem lies? Is this investigation going too far? Aren't we criminalizing politics -- or political / electoral success -- a little too much?
By the way, if the WFP is under investigation, depending on the theory of criminality, how many other parties -- if not all of them -- also warrant investigation? is it just the minor parties like the controversial Independence Party? Do candidates get investigated for their contributions to political parties? Do parties get investigated or prosecuted for their endorsements of candidates, suspiciously after receiving contributions from those same candidates? Where is the "line" separating the permissible from the illegal? And, who draws that line?
Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer and strategic analyst who engages in crisis management and other matters. Mr. Dixon cautions readers that this article is not legal advice. Mr. Dixon may be contacted for further comment through edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com, or at 917-696-2442.