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The Process is Political: More Money, Less Control in Super PAC Fundraising

Friday, October 14, 2011

Our daily look at the details that can change everything.

More Money, Less Certainty: Super PACs can raise unlimited cash and spend it in support of particular candidates, as long as they aren't planning and coordinating with official candidate campaigns. As Congress gets in on Super PAC fundraising, it will make for some very precise fundraising choreography.

 “Definitely, if you are in leadership, or whatever, you will be able to raise a lot more money,” Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Ga.) told Politico. “You can’t solicit the funds, but after you leave the room someone else can." But without coordination, candidates cede control and can't know for sure just how much of the big hauls will go to help a particular race. That has some lawmakers considering Super PAC's a nice bonus, but not something that can be relied on.

“That’s really rolling the dice there, that I don’t have to do anything, somebody will take care of me," said Rep. Gerry Connolly, Democrat of Virginia. (Politico)

Co-starring, but Not Coordinating: Sen. Ben Nelson is the star of a new campaign ad, but Democrats who paid for the ad say it is an independent expenditure, which allows for bigger spending but limits coordination with candidate's campaign. new independent campaign ad by Democrats. American Crossroads, the independent group run by Karl Rover to support Republican candidates, has asked the Federal Election Commission if the ad is proper, because the group said, it may want to run similar ads.

“By trying to be clever in helping Nelson,” a Crossroads spokesman told the Times, “they may be opening up a can of worms they may not have wanted to open up.” And campaign watchdog groups agree. Writing in the Huffington Post, Common Cause President Bob Edgar said he doesn't have much hope that the FEC, split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, will issue clear guidance.

"Its paralysis leaves candidates, parties and supposedly-independent groups like Rove's pretty well free to raise and spend political money as they please," he concluded. (NY Times)

Early Voting Confusion in Ohio: First Ohio passed a new law to shorten the period of time that voters can vote before Election Day. Then, opponents of the law collected 300,000 signatures for a referendum on the law on the November 2012 ballot. If the Secretary of State finds that at least 230,000 of the signatures are valid, the new law could be on hold until after the presidential election.

At least for now, it was to be on hold, as early voting began for an election this fall. On the ballot this year is a ballot question about another new law that would restrict collective bargaining for state workers. So - got all that? Now, imagine you're an Ohio voter, who shows up to vote early in Cuyahoga County a few days before Election Day, and...actually, you can't after all. (Cleveland Plain Dealer

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