Andrew Yang announced during Thursday night’s debate his plans to give away $120,000 to 10 random families as part of his pilot program for the universal basic income plan, also known as the “Freedom Dividend.”
In his opening statement, the 44-year-old Democratic presidential candidate and entrepreneur announced the online raffle, which people will be able to enter during the next week, according to Politico.
“In America today, everything revolves around the all-mighty dollar,” 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.”
The money will reportedly come from campaign funds and would be paid out for an entire year even if Yang doesn’t win the election, a campaign official said.
“Most politicians, they use campaign donations for TV or for high-class consultants,” the spokesperson said. “We are taking a different approach. We want to help people and we want to help families.”
Yang is currently paying out three families from Iowa, New Hampshire and Florida $1,000 a month for a year with his own money.
Even though Yang’s campaign aides who consulted with lawyers said the “Freedom Dividends are fully compliant with all FEC regulations,” other campaign-finance experts believe this move could run into conflict with federal law.
Adav Noti, a former Federal Election Commission lawyer turned litigator with the non-profit Campaign Legal Center, said Yang’s campaign views the prohibition as only applying to personal use of donors’ money to pay his or her own bill, according to CNN.
“Although it’s hard to say with 100% certainty until we know the details of the payouts, on its face Yang’s proposal to use campaign money to help pay the day-to-day expenses of selected people appears to violate the law,” he told the TV network.
“The fact that the payments happen to be consistent with Yang’s campaign platform is irrelevant,” Noti added. “An anti-tax candidate couldn’t use campaign money to pay people’s taxes, and a pro-income candidate can’t use campaign money to give people cash.”
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