There's a separate set of laws covering something called a "fraudulent conveyance," Baran said. Victims of swindling are entitled to recover any goods that were obtained with their swindled money. If the money was donated or given away rather than used to obtain something tangible, the victim can ask for the money back rather than tangible items. Any charity or other third party that has received money from a swindler may then be compelled to return that money to the person from whom it was originally obtained.
Hence one of the key arguments in Janvey's court filing -- that the political parties to which Stanford donated did not provide anything tangible in exchange for the allegedly swindled funds. They are more like charities that have been given swindled money and must return it.
Just because Janvey's legal argument "is unprecedented, that doesn't mean it will be unsuccessful," Trevor Potter, the campaign lawyer who represented Sen. John McCain during his presidential bid, said in an interview.
Lawyers for the five party committees involved in the case either declined to comment or did not respond to emails and phone calls. They can't argue that Stanford's donations bought him influence, but they are known to be checking if the money got him any tangible perks, like access to a concert or a sporting event or an exclusive gala at one of the party conventions.
Baran, who used to represent Republican congressional committees, said he suspects the party lawyers will try to reach a settlement with Janvey, rather than risk seeing this case resolved by a judge.
"I think Stanford's [alleged] victims are going to get some of the money, if not all of it," Baran said.
Stanford, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, is awaiting trial.