Daily Media Links 9/24: Super-PAC debuts pro-Fiorina documentary, Did Trump Violate FEC Rules With Lawsuit Threat?, and more…

In the News

Washington Examiner: Trump’s lead shows need for looser campaign finance rules

Jason Russell

“The court has said clearly the First Amendment protects the right to free speech,” Keating said. “The government can’t pass a law limiting how much money a campaign can spend or how much speech a campaign can do. That’d be like saying newspapers can’t have a circulation more than 100,000.”

If liberals really want to reform campaign finance law in a way that would damage billionaires, they should seek to raise or eliminate the cap on individual campaign contributions. Lifting the $2,700 limit would make it easier for other candidates to close their money gap with candidates like Trump.

“For most of our country’s history, we elected Lincoln, Roosevelt, Washington, Eisenhower … who [were] allowed to collect unlimited contributions,” Keating said. “Campaign finance restrictions, there’s no evidence they’ve done any good to make for better government. All it does is complicate things for people and make it harder to run outsider campaigns.”

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Independent Groups

The Hill: Super-PAC debuts pro-Fiorina documentary

Jonathan Swan

Citizen Carly” was made in a hurry. The super-PAC only registered itself in February and the shooting began in spring, said Katie Hughes, a spokeswoman for the outside group.

Also unusual was that the star talent could not talk to the directors for most of the shooting. Due to campaign coordination laws, the scenes featuring Fiorina all had to be shot before she announced she was running for president, Hughes said.

Most super-PACs in the 2016 cycle have been testing the boundaries of the law, with outside groups supporting Bobby Jindal, Rick Perry and Fiorina all staging events they describe as their own. They then “invite” the candidate to address the event as the featured speaker. But while these super-PACs are finding more innovative ways to spend their millions without breaking the law, documentary filmmaking is still newer territory.

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Western Journalism: The Jeb Bush Super PAC? Not Really.

James V. Lacy

Thus, “Right to Rise” really isn’t Jeb Bush’s Super PAC. It is rather an independent expenditure committee of operatives and donors that Trump sarcastically refers to as the “puppeteers” who favor Bush right now. And since it is indeed legally independent of Jeb Bush, it is not legally committed to support him. An amount like $103 million is not a sum to be invested unwisely.

The “Right to Rise” PAC could decide to support or oppose any of the 17 candidates currently running for the GOP nomination, not just Bush. Should Bush continue to fail to gain traction in the polls, if his support further erodes, and as the primary process proceeds to what some political veterans are suggesting will be a “brokered convention,” this observer suggests that six months from now, the “Right to Rise” PAC may not continue to be referred to as the “Bush Super PAC” in the press.

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Center for Public Integrity: Catholic super PAC bides time as Pope Francis visits Washington

Cady Zuvich

Pope Francis’s first visit to the United States has already ignited political passions in the nation’s capital.

But the nation’s most prominent Catholic super PAC is keeping a decidedly low profile as the pontiff visits the White House on Wednesday and U.S. Capitol on Thursday.

Officials with CatholicVote.org Candidate Fund, a super PAC affiliated with Chicago-based nonprofit group CatholicVote.org, say they’re waiting until the 2016 election season is further along before they actively raise and spend money.

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Daily Beast: Did Trump Violate FEC Rules With Lawsuit Threat?

Gideon Resnick

When Donald Trump gets annoyed with something, he has his crack team of lawyers handle it. Case in point: his current issue with the Club for Growth’s negative attack ads airing in Iowa, which use actual quotes from Trump in the past to paint him as supportive of national health care, imposing higher taxes, and his infamous 2004 line, “in many cases I probably identify more as a Democrat.”

Despite the fact this is probably one of the more common practices in American politics, Trump decided to threaten a lawsuit, but it’s who made the threat and how it was delivered that may have run afoul of the rules, according to campaign finance experts.

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Candidates and Campaigns

Politico: Walker’s campaign manager unloads

Mike Allen and Alex Isenstadt

After five weeks, it was clear: Madison, we have a problem. “It culminated with a trip through Texas, the three days leading up to Labor Day weekend, where … we’re supposed to raise half a mil and we brought in $184K,” Wiley said. “That, coupled with we were in the mail with [a] mailing to our donors, and that was the first time that [an internal] file had lost money. … So, at that point, we can say, ‘OK, we have a huge revenue problem.’”…

The super PAC, which had about $20 million available, looked into hiring field staffers in South Carolina and other early states — preparing to take over many communications and political functions from the campaign, rather than staying in the traditional role of running TV ads…

But Walker had a Walker problem: He just wasn’t ready for the national stage. It was often overlooked that just five years ago, he was the Milwaukee County executive. As he began the presidential campaign, according to advisers, he knew little about issues like immigration, the Export-Import Bank and foreign policy.

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Auburn Citizen: Lean and mean’ campaigns enable GOP candidates to endure

Associated Press

“People don’t stop running for president because they run out of ideas or they run out of a desire to give speeches,” said Terry Sullivan, Marco Rubio’s campaign manager, at a panel discussion Monday in Washington. “They stop running because they run out of money.”

Walker didn’t even last long enough to file his first formal campaign finance report. The next reports are due in mid-October, and it’s then that Rubio, Jindal and others in the race will have to disclose how their fundraising — and campaign spending — is shaping up.

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The States

Bozeman Daily Chronicle: Commissioner dismisses complaint against Republican PAC

Associated Press

Commissioner Jonathan Motl decided Wednesday that insufficient evidence exists to show Fox and the Republican State Leadership Committee were strategizing during the election season.

The committee spent more than $500,000 on television advertisements in Montana during the 2012 attorney general’s race.

Former Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Ted Dick filed a complaint with the commissioner’s office a week before the 2012 election that argued the committee should have reported those ads as campaign expenditures.

Motl rejects the assumption that a relationship between Fox and the Republican PAC implies the two were coordinating during the campaign.

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Pittburgh Post-Gazette: ‘Dark money’: A Pa. bill would bring political cash into the light

Editorial Board

This would change under a bill from Sen. Dominic Pileggi, R-Delaware County. If passed, these groups would have to report spending of more than $1,000 and the names of anyone who donates at least $100. It would also require ads to give a website address where viewers can learn more about the organization.

Pennsylvanians deserve to know who is behind all efforts to influence their votes. Right now, they don’t: The state earned an “F” in a report on disclosure requirements done by the National Institute on Money in State Politics. Mr. Pileggi’s bill seeks to clear some of the fog and should be swiftly enacted.

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The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.