While campaigning for the Democrat in Montana’s special election this coming Thursday, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) jokingly encouraged supporters to engage in a federal crime.
“Reach out to your friends and your family and your co-workers. Beg them, drag them, bribe them, do what you can,” Sanders declared during a rally for Rob Quist, the Democratic candidate in Montana’s special election, in Billings, Mont. on Saturday.
Bribing an individual for their vote is illegal under 18 U.S. Code § 597, and the punishment for such an action is a fine, or prison time, or both. “If the violation was willful, [the criminal] shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.”
Quist is running in a special election to replace former Congressman Ryan Zinke, who left the House of Representatives to become President Donald Trump’s secretary of the Interior. Democrats hope Quist will be their party’s first political victory of the Trump era.
Quist’s campaign has been mired in scandal, following revelations that the Montana Democrat used an October 1994 medical malpractice lawsuit to excuse more than $27,000 in debts and property taxes which were not paid off until this year. He has also used his own fraught medical history as an issue in the campaign, to attack the Republican health care bill. But recent revelations have put Quist in an increasingly uncomfortable situation.
Republican Greg Gianforte had a large lead over Quist, but earlier this month that lead dropped to single digits. While Bernie Sanders campaigned for Quist this weekend, Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump’s son Donald Jr. have campaigned for Gianforte.
Click “Load More” to see the video of Sanders jokingly encouraging supporters to break the law.