Yang unveils plan to give $1,000 a month from campaign to 10 families — which may violate election laws

Andrew Yang’s long-shot campaign for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination generated some attention on Twitter earlier this week by promising he would do “something no presidential candidate has ever done before in history.”

On Thursday night in Houston, Yang unveiled that something: His campaign will give 10 additional families $1,000 per month for a year — an offer some experts say may be a violation of federal election law.

Yang, whose signature policy proposal would be to give every adult American $1,000 a month, has been giving monthly checks in that amount to a New Hampshire family out of his own pocket. His new offer would be to distribute the money from his campaign funds — a move that could run afoul of a Federal Election Commission rule prohibiting the use of campaign money for “personal use.”

“When you donate money to a presidential campaign, what happens? The politician spends the money on TV ads and consultants and you hope it works out,” Yang said in his opening statement. “It’s time to trust ourselves more than our politicians. That’s why I’m going to do something unprecedented tonight: 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.”

Andrew Yang
Andrew Yang takes the stage at the start of the Democratic presidential debate in Houston on Thursday night. (Photo: Jonathan Bachman/Reuters)

Yang directed viewers to his campaign’s website to apply for the monthly $1,000 award.

“It’s original, I’ll give you that,” South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg told Yang after he made his offer.

A campaign official told Time magazine before the debate that its legal team reviewed the plan and said it complies with all FEC regulations.

“It’s something that has not been done before, so we relied heavily on our legal team,” the official said. “And we feel confident moving forward after talking to them about it.”

According to campaign finance data, Yang has raised more than $5 million and has about $850,000 cash on hand.

While most national surveys show Yang generating support in the single digits, he has been consistently polling sixth, behind Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris and Buttigieg.

[Elevator pitch: These candidates explain why they should be president, in 90 seconds or less]

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