May 17, 2011- Republican officials beware! Two good-government groups are warning that GOP politicians will be violating federal law if they solicit unlimited contributions for the newly-minted "Republican Super PAC."
The new fundraising group is the brainchild of James Bopp Jr., a lawyer and Republican National Committee member who can take some credit for the "Citizens United" Supreme Court ruling last year that wiped out most of the post-Watergate campaign finance reform regulations.
Bopp thinks he's come up with a way around one of the last remaining strictures still standing — the one prohibiting elected officials and party officials from directly soliciting or receiving unlimited campaign funds. He claims that, as long as those officials aren't involved in precisely how the money is spent once it's been received by his Super PAC, it still counts as an "independent" expenditure. This argument may be difficult to pull off, given Bopp's own status as a Republican Party member.
The reformers at Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center say he's gone too far.
"That's the one piece of McCain-Feingold's anti-corruption ban that still stands," said Trevor Potter, head of the Campaign Legal Center and a former Federal Elections Commission (FEC) chairman. Named after the Arizona Republican and Wisconsin Democrat who introduced the legislation in the Senate, McCain-Feingold is the campaign finance reform bill passed in 2002. It embodied the notion that allowing elected officials to be in a position to solicit or receive unlimited funds would inevitably result in the buying and selling of political favors.
Bopp's plan, according to a statement from the two reform groups, "would appear to violate multiple federal campaign finance laws because of the involvement of members of the RNC in establishing and controlling the PAC and because of the planned use of federal officeholders and candidates to solicit unlimited contributions for the PAC."