— ABC News (@ABC) September 13, 2019
Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang plans to announce at the debate in Houston tonight that his campaign will give 10 additional families $1,000 per month for a year, according to prepared remarks provided to TIME.
But the gifts, which are meant to highlight the cornerstone campaign proposal Yang has dubbed the Freedom Dividend, may be a violation of federal election law, some experts say.
“It’s time to stop trusting politicians and start trusting ourselves – so I’m going to do something unprecedented tonight,” Yang’s prepared remarks say. “My campaign is now going to give a Freedom Dividend of $1,000 a month to 10 American families for an entire year, someone watching this at home right now.”
The gift money is meant to highlight Yang’s plan for the federal government to give people $1,000 per month month. A campaign aide said the recipients will be randomly selected.
Since New Year’s Eve, Yang has been giving monthly checks of $1000 to a New Hampshire family month out of his own pocket. He’s since selected recipients in Iowa and Florida. Now he plans to disburse the money from campaign funds, a move experts say may violate federal election law.
“Handing out money to individuals for their own personal use would seem to be a violation of campaign-finance law,” says Erin Chlopak, director of campaign finance strategy at the Campaign Legal Center and a former FEC attorney. “It’s hard for me to envision how taking campaign funds and just handing it out to individuals would not violate the personal use prohibition.”