* This is one reason why I am no fan of the federal campaign finance laws. People get “busted” for allegedly “breaking” one of a kajillion confusing rules that aren’t really even rules…
Here’s yet another consequence of the confusing super PAC era: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., may have irritated members of his conference by donating to an anti-incumbent super PAC before the Illinois primary, but Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., could have violated campaign finance rules when he solicited Cantor’s donation.
Last week, Roll Call reported that Cantor donated $25,000 to the Campaign for Primary Accountability as a way of supporting freshman Rep. Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill, against fellow Republican Rep. Don Manzullo in a member-versus-member primary in the state’s 16th District (The group ultimately spent over $220,000 against Manzullo). According to both Cantor’s camp and Schock himself, Cantor cut the check at Schock’s request.
That’s where Schock treads dangerously close to the line drawn by the FEC. In an advisory opinion issued last year, the FEC says that federal officeholders and candidates “may solicit up to $5,000 from individuals (and any other source not prohibited by the Act from making a contribution to a political committee)” on behalf of super PACs. Candidates may appear at fundraisers on behalf of super PACs, but they cannot be involved in asking for checks larger than $5,000 — the reason Cantor, Mitt Romney, Harry Reid or even President Obama, for that matter, can appear at fundraisers for supportive super PACs, but they have to leave the room before staffers ask for donations in order to raise unlimited sums.
Schock, it seems, directly asked for a contribution well above the limit the FEC allowed.
Keep in mind that this is an advisory opinion, not an actual law. And the FEC is so screwed up and divided along partisan lines that it’s doubtful anything will become of it.
The “smoking gun” from Roll Call…
Cantor campaign spokesman Ray Allen told Roll Call that Cantor made the donation at the request of Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Ill.) for use only in the Kinzinger-Manzullo race.
“On Thursday, March 15, 2012, Leader Cantor was asked by Congressman Schock to contribute to an organization that was supporting Adam Kinzinger in the Illinois election of March 20. ERICPAC subsequently made a contribution with the understanding that those funds would be used only in the effort to support Congressman Kinzinger,” Allen said.
[Schock:] “I said, ‘Look, I’m going to do $25,000 [specifically] for the Kinzinger campaign for the television campaign’ and said, ‘Can you match that?’”
“And he said, ‘Absolutely.’”
Sorry, but I just can’t get too excited about this. I’m not sure how you feel. Perhaps you can change my mind.
* Also, this…
Illinois’ 2009 campaign finance law, passed in the wake of scandals that enveloped Gov. Rod Blagojevich, sought to limit the four legislative leaders’ ability to fund primary races because of fears that the leaders held too much sway over rank-and-file lawmakers once they arrived in Springfield.
However, House Speaker Michael Madigan, D-Chicago, was able to skirt the law’s $75,000 limit during last month’s hotly contested 96th House Democratic primary by tapping into his personal campaign fund to support Decatur schoolteacher Sue Scherer.
To date, Scherer’s campaign has reported getting $87,849 in contributions from campaign funds controlled by the speaker — $61,886 from the Democratic Majority committee and $25,963 from Friends of Michael J. Madigan, according to State Board of Elections records. […]
David Morrison, deputy director of the Illinois Campaign for Political Reform, said it’s fair for voters to consider whether Scherer and Madigan violated the spirit of the law even though all of the spending fell within the law.
Um. Those contributions were all well within the legal bounds. It’s beyond fair to report the amounts and how the law is being used to someone’s advantage, but “violating the spirit of the law” is more than a bit much.