DW: Jeb Bush's Super PAC under fire as candidacy announcement looms


Paul S. Ryan, a lawyer for the Campaign Legal Center, spoke with DW about his group's complaint. "There's just no way he has spent almost $100 million just in 'testing the waters'."

Bush is not the first presidential hopeful to "test the waters" of candidacy. Most, if not all, potential candidates undergo a certain amount of pantomime before officially announcing. Hillary Clinton, the leading Democratic hopeful, took her time before officially declaring in April, a hesitation that brought with it much media speculation. However, Ryan believes she broadly followed the rules, while many others did not. He plans to file further complaints against as many as a dozen other candidates, mostly Republicans, when Right to Rise and other Super PACs publish their obligatory semi-annual finance reports in mid-July.

Ryan believes that Jeb Bush is the worst offender, pushing the boundaries as far as he can take them in terms of time spent delaying his announcement and funding gained. "We've never seen this type of thing before," Ryan told DW. "He is just sitting back and grinning and thinking he's going to get away with it." ...

Paul Ryan is not optimistic that his challenges to the FEC will be successful. "The real question isn't whether [Bush's behavior] is legal or illegal, the question is whether anyone will do anything about it," he says. "And the answer is probably not. The process is broken. Badly broken." He expects a 3-3 vote deadlock in the FEC - an outcome that would block an investigation. Even if a penalty were imposed, he says, it would take years to enforce and would be "a monetary penalty amounting to a slap on the wrist."

Nevertheless, Ryan says he and his allies will continue to push. He is eagerly awaiting the July deadline for Super PAC finance reports. If all else fails, Ryan says his group plans to sue the FEC. "You hope for the best but expect the worst," Ryan says. He sees the outlook for the future of campaign finance control as bleak. "If Bush, in the long term, gets away with it, then his strategy will be the new norm - deny, deny, deny, deny."

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