Working Together for an Independent Expenditure: Candidate Assistance with Super PAC Fundraising

Harvard Law Review, March 2015 | Go to article overview

Working Together for an Independent Expenditure: Candidate Assistance with Super PAC Fundraising


Suppose a candidate for Congress attends a fundraising event held by a Super PAC set up specifically to support (and which in practice only supports) that candidate. During the event, the candidate offers some brief welcoming remarks to the guests--most of whom have already contributed the maximum allowable amount of $5200 (1) directly to the candidate for that election. The candidate asks that each individual attendee make a $5000 contribution--the maximum amount that an individual would be legally permitted to contribute to a PAC governed by traditional campaign finance limits (2)--to the Super PAC, which the candidate says he hopes "will be used for a good cause." Two minutes later, the candidate leaves to attend another event; one of the organizers of the fundraising event, acting on behalf of the Super PAC, then asks that each attendee give $100,000 instead of $5000, to be put to the benefit of the candidate who just left the room.

Some have mocked this state of affairs for creating large loopholes that functionally allow coordination between candidates and Super PACs that is prohibited by law. (3) However, under the current federal regime, this type of ostensibly "noncoordinated" collaborative fundraising is entirely legal--even commonplace. (4) This Note discusses the challenges posed by the growth of Super PACs and their increasing collaboration with candidates in fundraising efforts, and proposes a regulatory framework that maximizes the freedom for Super PACs to communicate their messages to voters and minimizes the potential for actual or apparent corruption that can occur when candidates coordinate with Super PACs.

INTRODUCTION

Coordination between candidates for elective office and independent expenditure-only political action committees--commonly dubbed "Super PACs"--is an issue of growing importance to campaign finance law. The tension over what activities are considered "coordination" hits at the heart of Super PAC activity: to maintain their legal designation, Super PACs must operate independently of the candidates they support. (5) Federal law treats any Super PAC expenditure that is coordinated with a candidate as a "contribution" to that candidate rather than as a legally allowed "expenditure." (6) Because of this limitation, a Super PAC cannot make a coordinated expenditure--if it does, the Super PAC may no longer raise unlimited contributions to make independent expenditures and must abide by the same restrictions as a traditional PAC that can legally make contributions directly to candidates. (7)

The concern about coordination is especially prominent in the area of political fundraising. Though some fundraising collaboration between candidates and outside groups has historically existed, (8) the import of this form of coordination has been amplified with the genesis of Super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited funds to elect candidates, but only through independent (noncoordinated) expenditures. (9) The Federal Election Commission (FEC), upon request, advised that federal candidates could participate in the fundraising efforts of these new Super PACs. (10) Federal candidates jumped at this opportunity--news accounts of candidate attendance at Super PAC fundraisers have proliferated, (11) yet there has been no concurrent updating of the statutory and regulatory limitations on these fundraising activities.

This Note argues that, as the number of Super PACs continues to grow, (12) the FEC and state election agencies should redefine "coordination" between candidates and Super PACs to include candidate-assisted Super PAC fundraising activities in order to ensure that Super PACs maintain the appropriate level of independence. An ideal definition would limit candidates' abilities to attend Super PAC fundraisers, solicit contributions on behalf of Super PACs, share fundraising consultants with Super PACs, and provide lists of wealthy family members and friends to Super PACs. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Working Together for an Independent Expenditure: Candidate Assistance with Super PAC Fundraising
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.