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Democrats Test GOP’s Plan at FEC

Updated: 5:31 p.m.

Less than a week after Republicans said they would use federal lawmakers, candidates and party officials to raise unlimited money for an election advertisement fund, Democrats filed a request with the Federal Election Commission to see if that type of fundraising is legal.

Democratic leaders for Majority PAC and House Majority PAC sent a letter to the agency Thursday asking whether such PACs may use federal candidates and party officials to raise unlimited money from corporations, unions and individuals in light of recent judicial rulings and agency opinions.

Monica Dixon, executive director of Majority PAC, said she and other Democrats filed the request “to get clarity on what the rules are.”
“We believe that the FEC is the only entity that can provide guidance and guidelines about what the rules will be as it relates to federal officials,” she said.

Majority PAC’s advisory opinion request comes just days after campaign finance lawyer James Bopp Jr. announced the controversial fundraising strategy for his new Republican Super PAC.

Campaign finance reform advocates from Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center railed against Bopp’s plan on Tuesday, calling it “illegal” in a joint statement.

Democrats’ advisory opinion request was met with mixed feeling by some campaign finance reformers. They want the issue to be addressed, but they also have been unhappy with some of the FEC’s recent opinions and deadlocked votes.

“This advisory opinion request asks a dysfunctional FEC about whether the proposed activities by the Republican Super PAC — including solicitation by federal office holders — are illegal,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21. He plans on filing comments with the agency on the matter.

“Chances are that you will wind up with another three-to-three split vote and that would not constitute a finding that you can do this,” he continued. “But it would be read by some people as evidence that the commission will not enforce the law.”

Bopp told Roll Call this week that he thought Democrats would act soon to create a similar independent expenditures PAC to capitalize on this fundraising strategy.

Bopp said he “can’t wait” until the Democrats create a similar PAC. “This is a great idea that they could benefit from as well.”