BREAKING: Campaign Legal Center Files FEC Complaint Alleging Illegal Coordination between Dean Phillips Campaign and Super PAC “We Deserve Better”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Campaign Legal Center (CLC) filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that the presidential campaign of Dean Phillips and the super PAC “We Deserve Better” (Better PAC) engaged in an illegal coordination scheme that violated federal campaign finance laws.
The complaint details how two former senior advisors of the Phillips presidential campaign used nonpublic information and strategic insights to inform Better PAC’s messaging. Indeed, even the super PAC’s name appears to have been message-tested by the campaign. The former campaign advisors, Matt and Scott Krisiloff, organized Better PAC just ten days after leaving the campaign, and the super PAC has reportedly raised over $4 million from wealthy special interests. Better PAC has reported spending over $3.3 million supporting Phillips to date.
“As a condition of their ability to raise and spend unlimited sums of money on federal elections, including money from corporations and special interests, super PACs are required by law to remain independent from the candidates they support. That means they cannot coordinate their activities with candidates or their campaigns,” said Erin Chlopak, senior director of campaign finance at Campaign Legal Center. “‘We Deserve Better’ was organized by two people who had direct access to private campaign information that appears to have informed the super PAC’s messaging and even its name. This type of illegal coordination allows a super PAC to essentially act as an arm of the Phillips campaign itself, giving the super PAC’s wealthy special interest donors undue influence over the policymaking process and drowning out the voices of everyday Americans.”
In light of the Krisiloffs’ role as both campaign advisors and super PAC organizers, the name of the super PAC itself, and a Better PAC ad using the campaign-tested slogan “Medicare for All,” available information suggests that confidential material from campaign polling memos, focus groups and direct communications with Mr. Phillips were illegally used to shape Better PAC’s messaging.
Election spending by outside spending groups has skyrocketed in the 14 years since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, and illegal coordination between such groups and candidates’ campaigns has gone almost entirely unchecked by the FEC. As documented in a report recently published by CLC, the actions of ‘Better PAC’ illustrate this increasingly commonplace and deeply problematic trend that serves to undermine democracy.
Voters have a right to fair and meaningful participation in our democratic process – not a system that privileges wealthy special interests above all others. The FEC should investigate the apparent coordination between “We Deserve Better” and the Phillips presidential campaign.