Andrew Yang goes full Publishers Clearinghouse, offering a thousand bucks a month to 10 lucky families out there in TV-land

For a moment, it appeared that the Democrat debate last night had morphed into a TV game show or a Publishers Clearinghouse commercial.  Following through on his campaign's promise to do "something no presidential candidate has ever done before in history," calling it a "freedom dividend," Andrew Yang offered a thousand dollars a month for one year to ten families who would write to his campaign and tell him how that cash would "solve your own problems better than any politician."

Grabien screen grab.

The proposal elicited a wry look on Amy Klobuchar's face and audible laughter from some of the other candidates (I thought I could identify Kamala Harris's laugh — she laughed a lot last night, sometimes awkwardly), and Pete Buttigieg, the next candidate called on to speak said, "That's original, I'll give you that."

Would that lottery-like contest even be legal?

The campaign said it "consulted with [its] counsel, and the Freedom Dividends are fully compliant with all [Federal Election Commission] regulations." But one campaign finance expert said the plan could raise legal issues. 

"If the payments are made from the campaign, this will certainly raise questions as to whether they are permitted under the law, but at present how the law should be applied to these payments is a gray area for which there are no direct precedents," said Anthony Corrado, a professor of government at Colby College in Maine. He said it would raise a question of whether the payments are a personal use of campaign money. 

He also noted that the FEC currently only has three commissioners, and the agency needs four to interpret a law or bring an enforcement action.

Following Yang's announcement, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian tweeted that he would personally cover the $1,000 monthly payments if Yang's campaign cannot.

A moneybags supporter coughing up $120,000 to buy votes?  Whom is this supposed to appeal to, aside from the people getting the checks?

Andrew Yang was three years old when the Democrats' nominee, George McGovern, proposed what he called a "Demogrant" of a thousand dollars a month per person, while Pete Buttigieg was not born until a decade after McGovern's run.  So much for Yang's originality.  I wonder if either man is familiar with the electoral map that resulted from McGovern's candidacy.  Here it is, by county:


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