American Future Fund’s Attempt to Evade Candidate “Soft Money” Ban Challenged by Watchdogs


The latest attempt by American Future Fund (AFF) to evade existing campaign finance laws was challenged today by watchdog groups in a filing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC).  The Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, filed comments urging the FEC to reject an attempt by AFF to utilize candidates and their committees to solicit “soft money” contributions through joint fundraising efforts with the 501(c)(4), super PACs and related entities.

In Advisory Opinion Request 2012-19, AFF asks the agency whether it may engage in joint fundraising efforts in various combinations with a list of political entities including the authorized campaign committees of federal candidates in direct violation of the federal law.

“An opinion permitting candidate-authorized joint fundraising committees to solicit and receive unlimited contributions would effectively gut candidate contribution limits,” said Legal Center Senior Counsel Paul S. Ryan.  “Candidate-authorized joint fundraising committees such as the Obama Victory Fund 2012 and Romney Victory Inc. would be able to add super PACs like Priorities USA Action and 501(c)(4) groups like Crossroads GPS to their rosters and solicit $1 million, $10 million or larger contributions from corporations, unions and other special interests—every penny of which could be spent advocating the election or defeat of President Obama and Mitt Romney.”

The comments filed today emphasize that such contributions to candidate-authorized joint fundraising committees, “would pose precisely the threat of real and apparent corruption that FECA’s contribution limits and BCRA’s soft money prohibitions were enacted to prevent.”

This current advisory opinion request by AFF is yet another effort by the group to evade federal campaign finance laws.  In June, in response to another AOR filed by AFF, the FEC deadlocked on 5 of 8 advertisements the group proposed to run without filing electioneering communications reports and disclosing donors.  The Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, had filed comments arguing the ads using recordings of President Obama’s voice and the phrases “the White House” and “the Administration,” referred to a “clearly identified candidate” and therefore constituted “electioneering communication” subject to disclosure laws requiring the group to reveal its funders.

To read the comments filed today, click here.