Federal Politics

Published — July 27, 2011 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Democrats and Republicans alike are exploiting new fundraising loophole

Mitt Romney, former Massachusetts governor and 2012 GOP presidential candidate. Alex Brandon/AP

Introduction

It was a traditional fundraising trek to New York, but with a twist.

While Mitt Romney was in New York to attend fundraisers for his presidential campaign and the state GOP on July 19, he also spoke at a dinner party for donors and potential donors hosted by Restore Our Future, an independent super PAC which has raised $12 million in large unregulated checks to help boost his candidacy.

Fundraisers familiar with Restore Our Future, which was set up a few top aides from Romney’s abortive 2008 campaign, say that Romney departed soon after he made brief remarks.

A loophole, recently blessed by the Federal Election Commission in an advisory opinion, allows some fundraising help for super PACs—which can accept unlimited checks—by members of Congress and presidential candidates. Both parties are exploiting it.

The FEC in its advisory ruling last month reaffirmed that members of Congress and presidential candidates can attend and speak at events hosted by independent super PACs, but they are personally not allowed to solicit the unlimited funds, only contributions up to $5,000 per year.

Last month, three Democratic senators wrote emails to financial supporters urging them to back Majority PAC, another super PAC that also can accept unlimited funds and is designed to keep the Democrats in control of the Senate.

Monica Dixon, the group’s executive director, told iWatch News that the three senators, Majority Leader Harry Reid, Al Franken and John Kerry, all requested donations of up to $5,000—the maximum PAC contribution per year.

In mid July, Majority PAC organized an informational briefing about its operations for potential donors on idyllic Martha’s Vineyard, at the same time that over 20 Democratic senators were on the island to attend an annual Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee bash for their leading donors.

Franken attended the briefing although he didn’t speak, his press aide said. Susan McCue, a founder of the PAC and a former chief of staff to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, hosted the Vineyard event which featured a talk by star Democratic operative James Carville.

Dixon stressed that the Majority PAC event was not a fundraiser and that the group is being careful to adhere to the new FEC guidelines. “There’s a bright line that the FEC has drawn and we’re following it,” she said.

Campaign analysts predict a surge in new fundraising for super PACs by candidates and office holders due to the FEC advisory and recent court rulings including last year’s historic Supreme Court decision allowing corporations and unions to give unlimited sums to independent political groups for ads and other electoral activities that directly back candidates.

But some legal experts caution that the new fundraising landscape seems filled with contradictions because of older restrictions that prohibit coordination between candidates and independent expenditure groups.

Trevor Potter, a former chairman of the FEC and the president of the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, told iWatch News that, “The fact is that the common sense definition of what independent uncoordinated expenditures of the sort referenced by the Supreme Court in Citizens United bears very little resemblance to the high levels of contact between candidates and these outside groups now permitted by the FEC.”

Some analysts argue that the new FEC advisory permitting members and candidates to attend super PAC events is effectively a type of coordination. “It flies in the face of reason to allow candidates to appear at super PAC events, while at the same time saying that they’re not coordinating with them or requesting unlimited contributions,” added Sheila Krumholz, the executive director of the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

jan v
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jan v

all the lobbyists are running all our government agencies and all the career civil servants who know how to run the country have been fired. YOU think this is a good thing ? what a crock…

thomas alessi
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thomas alessi

I am for Trump

Martin Shellabarger
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J. Stevenson, what are you drinking? Trump has more lobbyists in his administration than probably any other president. Trump is totally “for sale”, and the corporations know it. Grow a brain!

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
Guest
SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.