Last month, ThinkProgress reported on Tea Party Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) attempt to create his own personal slush fund — funded by unlimited donations from wealthy individuals and corporations — which he could then use to buy more friends in Washington by helping other politicians win elections. As we wrote then, this kind of activity is an invitation to corruption, and it should be illegal despite the Supreme Court’s egregious Citizens United decision.
Thankfully, at least one member of the Federal Election Commission appears to agree with us:
The commission issued a draft advisory opinion Wednesday that if adopted would shoot down the Utah senator’s request to turn his Constitutional Conservatives Fund into a political action committee capable of accepting big dollar checks directly from corporations and unions. […] A draft opinion means that at least one of the six commissioners disagrees with Lee’s legal argument, but other commissioners could release their own drafts before the official meeting — and that’s exactly what Lee’s attorney Dan Backer is banking on. […]
[T]he draft opinion says Lee’s request flies in the face of the 2002 campaign finance law that expressly prohibits elected officials from being associated with a political entity that collects money beyond the legal limits. For a PAC such as the Constitutional Conservatives Fund, the limit is $5,000 per person per year and a complete ban on corporate giving.
The draft opinion, which the full FEC will consider this Thursday, is available here. Should the full body agree that Lee’s proposed slush fund is such an invitation to corruption that even Citizens United can’t save it, the Tea Party purist is unlikely to take that decision sitting down. Lee previously claimed that federal child labor laws, FEMA, food stamps, the FDA, Medicaid, income assistance for the poor, and even Medicare and Social Security violate the Constitution, so he would hardly be going further out on a limb by claiming that any effort to keep wealthy corporations from buying politicians violates his twisted vision of our founding document.