You know Jeb Bush is running for president. I know Jeb Bush is running for President. However, if you ask Jeb Bush, he’s not yet sure whether he will run for president in 2016 or not. There is a very important reason for that distinction and it all comes down to money. As soon as Bush files the papers and launches an official campaign, he will be bound by campaign finance laws and no longer able to raise money on behalf of his Right to Rise Political Action Committee.

Report on this matter from MSNBC:

By not officially jumping in the race, the former Florida governor doesn’t have to abide by the “hard money” rules of presidential campaigns, which cap primary donations at just $2,700 per individual. He’s raising unlimited funds for his Right to Rise super PAC instead.

Super PACs, which sprang to life in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, can accept unlimited donations from wealthy individuals and from corporations. The only rule: they must operate independently of a candidate’s official campaign operation.

The word ‘candidate’ is key. Since Bush isn’t yet an announced candidate, he is essentially exploiting a loophole in the law and soliciting for his own super PAC.

According to the Sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan group that advocates for government transparency, Bush has headlined at least 47 appearances –many of them fundraisers – on behalf of Right to Rise since January. Indeed, he recently bragged to have raised more money in 100 days (estimated to be as much as $100 million) than any other political operation in his party.

It may seem obvious that Bush is competing for the GOP nomination. “But until he says the magic words ‘I’m running for president,’ he can raise as much money as he wants,” said Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation. “He’s really using the super PAC like we’ve never seen before.”

I want to stress that nothing Bush is doing here is illegal or outside the bounds of current election law in any way. He’s working within the current law and straddling the fence to raise as much “soft money” as he can before he must abide by federal election law. A Super PAC can take in pretty much any amount of money from anyone whether they’re an individual or a corporation.

More from the story:

…Team Bush reportedly has plans to have his super PAC essentially take control of the many operations that a candidate’s campaign would typically handle, like expensive television advertising and direct mail. The advantage is simple: the super PAC can raise unlimited funds, while his campaign will be subject to much stricter rules. And by waiting to declare his candidacy, Bush is giving himself plenty of time to coordinate with the super PAC and come up with a winning strategy for how it will later spend money on his behalf. According to the Associated Press, Mike Murphy – Bush’s longtime strategist – is likely to take the super PAC’s reins when the GOPer officially announces.

The reason for this is quite clear: money. Bush’s Right to Rise PAC might have upwards of $500 million in the bank before Jeb launches an official campaign. By those numbers, it means we may not see a campaign announcement until sometime this summer.

Scott Walker is currently doing something similar, though not at quite the pace Bush is since Walker is still a sitting Governor with day-to-day responsibilities in Wisconsin. Bush has unfettered time to give speeches and make appearances all around the country raking in money every week for his eventual campaign, as long as it’s not called a campaign.

21 COMMENTS

  1. Fat Jeb — the Chris Christie lookalike — is nothing but a Neocon scumbag.

    Hopefully, these dirty machinations will expose him to the American people for what he is — another Bushite Dynasty seeker!

  2. A landmark 2002 law bans a candidate from directly or indirectly establishing an organization that is not subject to federal contribution limits. Obviously, Jeb has exempt himself from this law and no one seems to care. Using a nonprofit in his political operations undermines the federal contribution limits, which permit individuals to give upto $2,700 to a candidate per election. He has also been raising money at an intense pace for his super PAC, Right to Rise. All this and he has not even announced he’s in the running. Michael Steel has left his post with Boehner and moved to Florida to promote Jeb. Robert Karem and John ­Noonan are
    paid consultants on foreign policy issues. Yet, less than five days ago, in Manhatten, Jeb stated “What you need to know is that who I listen to when I need advice on the Middle East is George W. Bush.” Those Bushes do hang together.

    However, I think Jeb will most likely be elected if he runs. He will carry the Hispanic vote, just as the present governor of Texas did….thanks to their very lovely and charming Hispanic wives.

    • It’s because’s he’s not a candidate yet. That’s the line he’s drawing. Until he files the papers or says “I’m running for president,” he’s not subject to the law you mentioned.

      That’s why since December, he’s been “actively exploring” whether he will run in 2016. Basically it signaled, “Yes, I’m running. No, it’s not official”

      • Federal lawrequires an individual who is “testing the waters” of a federal candidacy to
        pay for those activities with funds raised in compliance with the federal candidate contribution restrictions—no individual contributions above $2,700, no corporate or labor unionfunds—i.e., candidate-permissible funds. The candidate registration and disclosure requirements however, do not kick in until an individual actually becomes a candidate, at which point the individual must register a principal campaign committee with the Federal Election
        Commission (FEC) and, on the committee’s first campaign finance report, disclose all funds raised and spent to “test the waters.”

        “Testing the waters” means activity “undertaken to determine whether the individual should
        become a candidate,” including, for example, travel to see if there is sufficient support for one’s candidacy.

        Only Senator Lindsey Graham and former Senator Jim Webb appear to be complying with the federal campaign finance laws.

        The legal structures being used by prospective candidates vary but they all share a common
        characteristic: they accept funds in excess of the $2,700 limit applicable to candidates and “testing the waters” activities; some of them (e.g., super PACs, 527 organizations, 501(c)(4) organizations) also accept corporate/union contributions, which may not be accepted by federal candidates or used to pay for “testing the waters” activities.

        If a candidate (regardless of party) chooses to search for ways to circumvent and skirt a law…what else might that person do.

        • I’m not disagreeing with you that’s is an under-handed thing to do.

          Graham and Webb filed official exploratory committees.

          Bush has filed nothing official. No “testing the waters” committee, nothing. Zero. Nada.

          His actions may be a case study in loopholes, but I don’t think he’s currently breaking the law. That may be arguable, but by the letter of the law, he’s clean.

          • Nate: “Clean”–pffft.

            “Testing the waters” doesn’t mean sending water through a chemical analysis, nor swimming a few laps. It’s sticking one’s toe in, to check temperature.

            Or, as the feds say, “Examples of permissible testing-the-waters activities include polling,
            travel and telephone calls to determine whether the individual should
            become a candidate. 11 CFR 100.72(a) and 100.131(a).”

            Turns out, according to the rules, the boy has his suit on and is deep into the water:

            “Certain activities, however, indicate that the individual has decided to become a candidate and is no longer testing the waters [including]

            –Raise more money than what is reasonably needed to test the waters.”

            By that definition, he isn’t testing the waters, he’s buying a pool and already put on flippers.’

          • Well, that would be the letter of the law. Sorry, Nate, just couldn’t help saying that.

          • I’m not here to defend Jeb, I’m just saying that you’re both missing the very minor, yet critical details here.

            He isn’t raising money. His PAC is raising money. That’s the difference that keeps him on the right side of this law.

            Did you read the story I linked to? Doesn’t seem like it..

            I’m not being argumentative, I think you’re both falling into the trap because you’re ignoring the details that make what he’s doing perfectly legal. It’s borderline, but within the law.

            Just pointing out that he found a legal loophole, and drove an aircraft carrier through it… but it’s still legal.

            • With our insane legal system, in which corporations are “people,” I suppose JEB could flle “JEB, LLC,” and “JEB, LLC” could collect all the money he wants. He just wouldn’t be allowed to talk to himself.

            • Close.. but he is allowed to talk to himself UNTIL he officially files something.. Once he becomes a campaign, no more contact with JEB, LLC..

            • What story are you talking about? The text at the top?? Are you trying to use MSNBC as your source???

              I went to the Channel 7 link, but that just shows him talking about running–way past “testing the waters.” I think it’s pretty clear by the letter of the law that “testing the waters” involves phone calls that say, “shucks, I don’t know, what do you think?” not massive fund-raising

              The MSNBC story is just plain wrong. The text of the actual law, which we provided, says there is an illegal stage AHEAD of announcing. It is abusing “testing the waters.” One of the criteria for “testing the waters” is to raise more money than is needed to “test the waters,” which means phone calls and travel expense. YET, JEB has bragged that he has raised more money than any of the current candidates.

              And I’m not here to defend or condemn JEB. I’m only in the discussion because there IS written law, and it is being trampled on–not just the spirit, but the actual words of the law. That’s the only issue I’m arguing.

              Just because he’s getting away with it don’t make it “legal.”

            • Who is raising the money? It’s not Jeb.. it’s his PAC.. which, once again, makes it legal.. there is a fine line..

          • Webb and Graham are now bound by the election laws, as described by Tess.

            Jeb is not since he hasn’t filed anything yet or stated that he’s running. He’s still “thinking about it.”

            You two are like quacking geese looking for a pond..

            • . Only persons just alighting from a UFO can believe that activities of the majority of prospective presidential candidates are the accepted practices of honest and
              decent human beings. These off side shenanigans actually began with Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan took it to new
              heights, Bush1&2 upped the scheme. Bush3, and most of his opponents (all parties) have worked the scam to perfection.

              As I understand Arthur Koestler ( who can quickly put one to sleep) Quacking Geese are a social holon so if we keep quacking others will listen and pick up the tone.

            • And you’re ducking the real issue. Raising big money is a violation of the “testing the waters” section of the written law–quoted by me.

              Once you pile up a crapload of cash, you’re not “thinking about it.” You’re not even “testing the waters,” according to the written law. You are, in fact, “violating the law.”

            • No, Jeb Bush hasn’t raised a dime.. I’m not ducking the issue because you are missing the fact that the PAC is raising the money, not Jeb..

              Money is being raised by his Right to Rise political action committee.

  3. Jeb Bush filed the paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to establish his Leadership PAC the Right to Rise and Super Pack the Right to Rise. Both Packs and the money belongs to Jeb, not his advisors, and it is all 401 tax exempt. Who could ask for anything more? Maybe Paul Ryan, who used the phrase “the right to rise” repeatedly during his campaign for vice president. Since Jeb attends these Right to Rise events, speaks, eats, and mingles and the donors believe the money goes to Jeb. I don’t even see a fine line that suggests the Pac is the owner of the money. After the election, win or lose, the money still belongs to Jeb.

    • Here’s a more convincing read supporting your perspective… BUT.. even this story states exactly what I’ve been saying:

      Though the Bush campaign spokesperson states that Bush is not yet a candidate — a claim that has been challenged — in any event once Bush formally declares his candidacy the provision of the 2002 law would immediately kick in.

      http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2015/04/22/why-jeb-bushs-super-pac-plan-is-potentially-illegal/

      As in, until he declares a candidacy, the 2002 law you both keep citing does not apply to him. They say “potentially illegal,” because it’s still legal the way they’re operating it.

      Challenge the claim about whether he’s “formally” a candidate or not, that’s fine..

      but I’m just telling you, he isn’t YET breaking the law..

      • I’m not here to defend or trash JEB. I think he’s second best behind Rand. But despite what the pundits want you to believe, according to the letter of the law (as if campaigns cared) it is illegal to raise sh*tloads of money and pretend you’re only “testing the waters.”

        Your argument sounds like questioning what the meaning of “is” is, if you catch my drift.

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