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DNC accuses RFK Jr. campaign and super PAC of colluding on ballot access effort

The Democratic National Committee announced Friday that it is filing a Federal Election Commission complaint against Robert F. Kennedy Jr. 's independent presidential campaign and the super PAC supporting him on allegations the two are colluding to get Kennedy ballot access. 

On Dec. 5, super PAC American Values 2024 announced it would invest $10 million to $15 million in ballot access, with the aim of getting Kennedy on the ballot in at least 10 states. 

In the FEC complaint, the DNC claims that in the states in which American Values 2024 has announced a ballot access initiative, each "requires the candidate to submit a draft signature petition for state approval, turn in the completed forms, identify the individuals who collected the signatures, and obtain certification for circulators." 

The DNC complaint alleges that the super PAC is coordinating "its activity with Mr. Kennedy and his campaign in a way that violates federal campaign finance laws."

"Our complaint asks the FEC to begin an investigation and remedy the violations that they find," DNC legal counsel Robert Lenhard said in a press briefing Friday.

In previous conversations with CBS News, both the super PAC and the Kennedy campaign have said that they have legal experts guiding them through the process, and both are pursuing ballot access separately. 

"Rather than doing the hard work itself using money raised in compliance with the candidate contribution limits, the campaign is taking shortcuts," Lenhard said.

In a statement sent to CBS News, Kennedy's campaign manager and daughter-in-law, Amaryllis Fox Kennedy, said, "This is a nonissue being raised by a partisan political entity that seems to be increasingly concerned with its own candidate and viability."

DNC senior adviser Liz Smith, who was also on Friday's press call, said the DNC believes "Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s campaign and the primary super PAC backing his campaign are illegally coordinating in violation of federal election law." 

"What we are witnessing is the outsized illegal influence of individual mega donors like billionaire Tim Mellon, Donald Trump's largest donor in this cycle, who gave American Values the exact $15 million paycheck they said that they would need for ballot access," Smith said. 

During the call, reporters asked if the Democratic Party is concerned that Kennedy might peel off votes in swing states as President's Biden age potentially becomes a bigger campaign issue. DNC senior adviser Ramsey Reid replied that the party is "concerned that Donald Trump and his mega-donors are propping up RFK Jr." 

The last American Values 2024 FEC report shows that Mellon, who had previously backed former President Donald Trump, was one of the PAC's top donors. Mellon made three different transactions to the super PAC from July 1, 2023, to Dec. 31, 2023, totaling $10 million. According to the FEC report filed in the first half of the year, Mellon had also donated another $5 million.

Fox Kennedy said in the statement that to her "knowledge, we have yet to receive any signatures from American Values PAC or any PAC; nor have we provided any information that is not available to every volunteer and media outlet on our public website." 

"I am aware that they have their own signature collection tracker on their public website, but we take our FEC obligation seriously and are not permitted to tell PACs what they should and should not do with their money," Fox Kennedy added. 

The co-founder of American Values 2024, Tony Lyons, said in a statement to CBS News that "this FEC complaint is just another desperate DNC tactic to defame Kennedy, vilify him and drain his campaign funds."

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