Friday, May 20, 2011

Democrats Want to Copy GOP Fund-Raising Group — If It’s Legal

James Bopp Jr., one of the attorneys behind the Citizens United case, caused some campaign finance lawyers to do a double take Monday when he said he plans to use his new campaign group to help campaigns get around fund-raising limits.

Now, some Democrats are asking the Federal Election Commission to decide if the plan is legal – as Mr. Bopp insists. If it is, they’d like to copy the idea, attorneys for two Democratic campaign groups wrote Thursday in a letter to the Federal Election Commission.

Mr. Bopp’s Republican Super PAC plans to accept and spend unlimited funds, as allowed under the landmark 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court ruling. But unlike earlier groups that were set up to take advantage of the ruling, the group will let donors earmark their checks for certain candidates. In Mr. Bopp’s plan, the Republican Party and its candidates would ask donors to give them the maximum amount allowed under current law, then tell donors to give any additional money to Mr. Bopp’s group.

Republican Super PAC could then spend the money on races across the country, though it could not coordinate with candidates. It’s unclear if donors and the Republican National Committee would give that much power to Mr. Bopp’s venture.

Good government organizations and some campaign finance lawyers have also said that the coordination could violate campaign finance law.

Lawyers for House Majority PAC and Majority PAC, two Democratic groups, want the FEC to rule on the matter within 30 days, according to the letter. If the strategy is legal, and the letter suggests it isn’t, the Democratic groups plan to mimic Mr. Bopp’s strategy. A copy of the letter was obtained by Politico.

A spokeswoman for Majority PAC did not immediately return a request for comment.

In a Monday interview with Washington Wire, Mr. Bopp said he had little doubt his plan is supported by a string of court cases.

“Who cares,” Mr. Bopp said of his opponents. “The Supreme Court doesn’t care, and I don’t care, and the [Federal Election Commission] doesn’t care. No one that matters cares.”

By Danny Yadron

Source: WSJ


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