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.