The political world is on tenterhooks waiting for Hillary Clinton, and when there’s even a hint of chum in the water, the sharks come circling.

“Clinton’s Minyon In A Mess,” declared the Republican National Committee. “Another Scandal Emerges From Clinton Land.”

Minyon refers to Minyon Moore, a longtime Democratic activist with ties to the Clintons, who also has alleged ties to Washington businessman Jeffrey Thompson, who just ratted out Washington DC Mayor Vincent Gray for allegedly asking him to fund an illegal shadow campaign to help elect Gray.

Is that enough “allegedly” to make your eyes glaze over?

Actually, it’s just convoluted enough to set off the first IED (improvised explosive device) on Clinton’s long and treacherous path to the Democratic presidential nomination. Rule One: Never let an attack go unanswered. Media Matters watchdog group, “Correct the Record,” fired back immediately at The Washington Post, which headlined its story, “Hillary Clinton Adviser Minyon Moore Sought Funds for Illegal Campaign, Court Papers Allege.”

The word “illegal” was strongly contested by Correct the Record’s Burns Strider, who called it “horse sh—t.” The Dewey Square Group, the public affairs firm where Moore works, issued a statement saying Moore “was entirely unaware of any inappropriate activities” and is cooperating with investigators. The public court papers in Thompson’s plea agreement say he told federal prosecutors that Moore asked him to underwrite pro-Clinton efforts in four states and Puerto Rico during the ’08 primaries for a total of $608,750.

The money was allegedly to fund “street teams” of grassroots people hired to put up signs and pass out literature—what campaigns call “field work.” There’s no mention in the court papers of illegality, and prosecutors said there was nothing that indicated Clinton was aware of Moore’s request. To get a better understanding of the dynamics behind these transactions, I spoke with a Democratic donor familiar with the nexus between money and politics.

“A lot of times in politics, staffers instruct and/or inform donors about ways they can be helpful beyond direct contributions,” he says, choosing his words carefully, recalling a time when donors who had maxed out on their federal limits so a candidate could give unlimited funds to state parties; money that could then be funneled back to the candidate—all done with a wink and a nod. “There are many legal and creative ways to help that go beyond direct contribution,” he says. What’s being reported about Moore’s alleged dealings with Thompson are not surprising, or unusual, or illegal.

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