May 16, 2011- Attorney James Bopp Jr. spent much of the last two years trying to get rid of the ban preventing federal officials from raising unlimited contributions, or so-called “soft money.”
Now, he may have found a way around it.
Bopp and two other Republican National Committee members last week organized an independent political group called the Republican Super PAC, which will encourage state and federal candidates to direct any campaign cash the politicians can’t accept, such as unlimited donations, to the new Super PAC, which can accept them.
The new twist Bopp would usher in would be to turn federal and state elected officials essentially into his bundlers and fundraisers, lawmakers who would then solicit donations intentionally aimed at circumventing campaign finance regulations.
“We are not going to do any fundraising,” Bopp told POLITICO. “We are harnessing the fundraising operations of those entities, the RNC and all the state parties and federal candidates, who will be raising money first for themselves and then they would tell their donors, if they have extra money, to send it to the Republican Super PAC.”
According to an invitation to RNC members to discuss the new committee this Wednesday, Bopp and his team would encourage lawmakers “to solicit and direct federal and state contributions from donors, above the current state and federal contribution and source limitations.” The invitation was obtained and first reported on by the Sunlight Foundation, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog group.
Bopp is the attorney who brought the lawsuit that paved the way for unlimited corporate and labor union money in politics. Here’s how his plan would work: A U.S. House member cannot accept campaign donations from corporations. Under Bopp’s proposal, that same congressman could ask his industry patrons to drop their checks into the Republican Super PAC, and he’d have a guarantee from Bopp that the cash he generated would be used to assist his election chances.
The potential for abuse or the specter of conflicts of interests created by such an obvious financial tie between corporate donors and sitting lawmakers was a major reason Congress voted to ban soft money donations to federal candidates and national party committees in 2002. In 2010, many big donors to GOP groups kept their identities secret to protect both their own reputations and, more important, the image of the politicians they sought to assist.