Jeb Bush, Martin O’Malley, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker are believed to be violating federal campaign finance laws, watchdog groups Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 alleged. The complaint was filed with the Federal Election Commission or FEC on March 31.
Election 2016 hopefuls “in a charade that fools nobody”
According to Paul S. Ryan, Campaign Legal Center senior counsel, the four hopefuls for the 2016 elections kept denying their plans of running but kept traveling to Iowa and New Hampshire to meet with party leaders, voters and hiring campaign staff. The four hopefuls are raising millions of dollars “from deep pocketed mega-donors, all the while denying that they are even ‘testing the waters’ of a presidential campaign,” Ryan said.
“But federal campaign finance law is no joke and the candidate contribution limits kick in as soon as a person begins raising and spending money to determine whether they’re going to run for office. Bush, O’Malley, Santorum and Walker appear to be violating federal law,” Ryan highlighted in a statement.
No matter how these four 2016 elections hopefuls deny that they will be candidates, they are not exempted from federal laws passed by Congress.
“Jeb Bush is reportedly aiming to raise more than $50 million for his super PAC. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has opened an office in Iowa and is raising millions for a political group he created in January. Rick Santorum’s own aide is referring to him as a ‘candidate.’ These individuals are ‘candidates’ under the law,” Ryan outlined.
According to Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer, if 100 ordinary Americans are to be asked if Bush, O’Malley, Santorum and Walker are presidential candidates, these ordinary Americans will say “of course they are candidates.”
“Major presidential candidates have been engaged in a charade that fools nobody. While they travel around and act like candidates, talk like candidates, raise funds like candidates and build presidential campaign organizations like candidates, they have pretended not to be candidates. Indeed, they claim they are not even testing the waters to decide whether to become candidates. This is absurd,” Wertheimer said in a separate statement.
According to him, the four hopefuls kept denying their plans for presidential bid in order to avoid America’s campaign finance laws.
“These candidates are counting on the FEC failing to enforce the campaign finance laws. But the FEC should for once just do its job and not let presidential candidates mock the laws and the American people,” Wertheimer alleged.
According to separate complaints filed with the FEC, Bush, O’Malley, Santorum and Walker are traveling extensively to early primary/caucus states, battleground states and fundraising hotspots; building campaign infrastructures; raising funds to pay for these activities and to bankroll a formal presidential campaign. These activities already involved “testing the waters” under federal law and must be paid for with funds raised under the federal candidate contribution limits and restrictions (not exceeding $2,700 per individual donor, no corporate/union funds).
Bush, O’Malley, Santorum and Walker are all raising funds above the $2,700 candidate limit, providing reason to believe they are violating federal law, the complaint stated.
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