The founder and CEO of New Politics, a left-of-center advocacy group that has been bankrolling Dan Feehan as he runs for Minnesota’s First Congressional District, implied on a 2019 podcast that the organization provides a “stipend” for political candidates who are in between races.
New Politics is an organization that seeks to “recruit, develop, and elect” political candidates who will “revitalize American democracy.” The organization largely works with Democrats and retains outspoken neoconservative Bill Kristol as a member of its Leadership Council.
Emily Cherniack, founder and CEO of New Politics, elaborated on the purpose of her organization during a 2019 appearance on “The Great Battlefield Podcast.”
“What’s equally as important is the ones who don’t win, and what we have piloted and started this year is a fellowship program. And so what we realized was, a lot of our candidates who are not wealthy, have spent a year and a half not working, and they’re exhausted,” she said, according to the Washington Examiner, which first reported on the interview in a Tuesday article.
Feehan, who was a member of the fellowship program, received compensation from the New Politics Leadership Academy (NPLA) in the amounts of $64,000 in 2018 and $55,500 in 2019. The NPLA, an affiliated nonprofit of New Politics, announced in January 2019 its first group of six fellows, all of whom were Democratic candidates who lost their 2018 races. Four of the six, including Feehan, are running again this year.
“And we just thought if we could provide some transition time for them; four months, where they get a stipend, so they don’t have to like worry about paying their rent or their groceries or their mortgage, right? And also they get four months to rethink and reflect and work on and do research on things that they find would be valuable for them as political leadership development,” Cherniack added.
According to Cherniack, the transition period wherein members of the fellowship program receive a stipend is four months long. The stipend is allegedly in place to cover necessities such as “rent” or “groceries,” but the compensation would add up to $192,000 in 2018 and $166,500 in 2019 if it were to be annualized, more than double the median household income in Minnesota.
Additionally, the fellowship program was announced in January 2019, but Feehan was receiving income from NPLA in 2018, according to his House financial disclosure reports.
As previously reported, records show that Feehan has received $475,000 from three left-wing “nonprofits” between 2017 and 2019 (2020 is not yet disclosed). U.S. Rep. Jim Hagedorn, whom Feehan is running against, has claimed that the payments are subsidies for his opponent as he runs for Congress, which is a potential violation of campaign finance laws.
“Paying for political candidates’ monthly living expenses after a failed campaign is definitely not a charitable activity and raises a question of impermissible private benefit,” Ryan Oberly, a South Carolina lawyer, told the Washington Examiner. “But, receiving taxable compensation for services rendered to the charity would be perfectly acceptable if the payments were reasonable and not excessive.”
“Even if the compensation is reasonable, a private benefit concern would exist if all the fellows were from the same political party,” he said.
Hagedorn filed an FEC complaint against Feehan after he “denied receiving nearly $500,000 from three Democrat groups during a two-year period while running for Congress.”
“Feehan should immediately provide proof of how he earned almost $500,000 over a short period of time while also running for a contested House seat,” Hagedorn said in a statement. “It certainly appears Dan was paid to run for Congress, and concerned voters across southern Minnesota deserve answers, which I hope an investigation by the FEC will provide.”