Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Jeb's fundraising has Hillary's knickers twisted

By Richard Barry

We don't need no stinkin' rules

Every time we hear talk about big money on the Republican side in 2016, we are very quickly told not to worry because Hillary and Bill are monster fundraisers and will do fine. 

And that may be true, but the Clintons have certainly noticed the early work being done by Jeb Bush to fill the coffers through his Super PAC Right to Rise.  

The New York Times reports today that HRC had planned to wait until May for her first fund-raising events, but has now decided to hurry things along because of Jeb's super PAC fundraising, this according to "people close her campaign."
She added two fund-raising events in New York and Washington, which quickly morphed into five separate fund-raisers. She also added several events for a West Coast swing next week, to coincide with her first trip to Nevada, one of the early caucus states in the nominating process.

Go, Hillary, Go. 

While we're on the subject, let's review the rules (which I'm mostly doing for myself):
A Super PAC is an organization that can raise unlimited amounts of money for spending on federal elections. While candidates and regular PACs (political action committees) are only permitted to raise a few thousand dollars from any one individual, a Super PAC can accept unlimited contributions from any US citizen or corporation.

Also significant is the rule that "[d]eclared presidential candidates are precluded from coordinating with super PACs," which follows the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court in 2010.  Mr. Bush has not yet declared, and holds no office so, his team argues, faces no such restrictions.

Hillary Clinton has declared her candidacy, which according to the Federal Elections Commission means this:
In the case of a Presidential candidate running in various State primaries, [a donor] may contribute up to $2,700 for the entire primary campaign period--not $2,700 for each State primary in which the candidate runs.

The Times story says that Mrs. Clinton has "privately complained" that Jeb has delayed announcing his candidacy as long as possible "so he can keep raising money from the outside group that will back him." And why wouldn't he?

According to a recent piece in the National Journal:

"They have so radically changed the game that serious candidates for president cannot, will not be able to compete without a very substantial super PAC or set of super PACs," says Gregg Phillips, who was a 2012 strategist for the pro–Newt Gingrich group Winning Our Future. "If you're a candidate, you have to raise money in $2,700 increments. If you're a super PAC, you can raise money in million-dollar chunks."

So far, the Clinton campaign has not instructed donors to start giving money to her Super PAC Priorities USA because, as the Times reports, "it is currently in flux as to what its structure will have, according to people briefed on the discussions."

Um, they might want to clear that up, and soon. 

Right now Jeb has not declared his candidacy so he can work closely with his Super PAC to raised unlimited funds. But, as noted above, once a candidate has declared:
Super PACs can’t give any money directly to political candidates or coordinate with campaigns. Instead, they spend heavily on their own independently-produced ads promoting their preferred candidates, which is why the official term for a Super PAC is an "independent-expenditure only committee." Super PACs must disclose all of their funders to the Federal Election Commission. They spend most of their money on advertisements — usually television ones.
But, according to NewsMax, Jeb Bush appears to be gearing up to break the law by "designing his super PAC to work on autopilot after he declares his candidacy. . . It would handle television advertising, direct mail, and a range of other duties typically done by campaign organizations."

New York Times editorial argues that '[t]hose duties would transform the Super PAC into the true centre of his presidential campaign," which is totally uncool because, as one analyst puts it, campaign finance rules forbids a candidate from controlling super PACs through proxies while continuing to raise unlimited cash."

This has given the Campaign Legal Center fodder to recently file a petition with the Federal Election Commission against Jeb Bush and others.

Not only is Jeb putting off announcing his candidacy in order to coordinate his Super PAC fund raising with his nascent campaign, he also seems intent on flouting the law once he announces. 

Not very nice. 


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  • Thanks for this overview of the situation. I avoid following it because it makes my brain hurt. I think this business about not coordinating is a joke regardless. As long as the candidate has his or her people in the superpac, it will be able to take cues from the campaign.

    As for Bush, at best it is likely to be found after the fact that what he did was wrong. But that won't change the fact that the election results are in and certified.

    On a more positive note, Jonathan Bernstein argues that money is primarily of importance during the primaries. During the general election, there is so much coverage of candidates that ad buys really don't have much effect. I'm not sure how true that it, but there is at least something to it.

    By Blogger Frank Moraes, at 12:40 PM  

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