US News: Blurred Lines: The Covert Funding of the 2016 Campaign
Pre-presidential candidacy PACs are running roughshod over the rules, critics say.
Bush is reportedly asking for $100,000 per person from Wall Street financiers, but if he’s using any of that money to gauge a White House campaign, he will have violated federal campaign finance law, according to Paul Ryan, senior counsel for the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center.
“That goes over the line. These practices completely undermine the candidate contribution limits,” Ryan says. “His lawyers have to defend the legal fiction that he’s not even testing the waters, not even spending money to determine to run. This is a sham.” ...
There’s a plethora of prospective candidates engaged in a flurry of pre-candidacy activities – whether it be travel to political events, the hiring of aides, the personal pitches to well-heeled donors over dinner or at receptions – and Ryan sees most of them as flagrantly flouting existing campaign regulations without the threat of repercussion.
“If all of this campaign operation-building, coast-to-coast travel and fundraising does not constitute ‘testing the waters,’ it is difficult to imagine what would,” Ryan writes in a forthcoming report for his organization, shared first with U.S. News. ...
The Republican governor told reporters in Wisconsin that the 527-style organization is “focused on ideas,” rather than getting behind specific candidates.
But Ryan says that’s a mischaracterization and points to an IRS statute that says the only acceptable purpose of such a 527 group is to “influence the selection, nomination, election or appointment of an individual to a federal, state, or local public office.”
“Walker and his lawyers either need to be saying they are promoting other candidates or are promoting his candidacy,” says Ryan.
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