Was Andrew Yang's Sweepstakes Even Legal?

Andrew Kerr

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang offered to give away $120,000 in campaign funds to 10 people at Thursday night’s debate, prompting questions as to the legality of the sweepstakes.

“My campaign will now give a freedom dividend of $1,000 a month for an entire year to 10 American families — someone watching this at home right now,” Yang announced during his opening statement. “If you believe that you can solve your own problems better than any politician, go to Yang2020.com and tell us how $1,000 a month will help you do just that.”

Yang has previously given so-called “freedom dividends” to three families from his own pocket since launching his campaign, The New York Times reported.  But Yang’s most recent offer will be funded by his campaign.

“Normally when you give money to presidential campaigns, it goes to expensive consultants and ads,” the Yang campaign said in a statement, The Times reported. “For the first time in history, a presidential campaign is going to give money back to the people.”

Campaign finance law prohibits candidates from paying people in return for their votes and from using their campaign funds to pay for non-campaign related expenses, The Times noted.

Yang’s campaign told The Times that it was confident the arrangement operates within the bounds of campaign finance laws, noting that that the sweepstakes is designed to educate the public about the Democrat’s signature policy and wouldn’t exist in the absence of his campaign for president.

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