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Potential GOP 2012 Presidential Candidates Use PACs To Skirt Federal Campaign Fundraising Laws

By Ben Armbruster on December 31, 2010 at 10:00 am

"Potential GOP 2012 Presidential Candidates Use PACs To Skirt Federal Campaign Fundraising Laws"

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USA Today reported yesterday that 6 Republicans considering a run for president in 2012 — Gov. Haley Barbour (MS), Newt Gingrich, former Arkansas governor MIke Huckabee, Sarah Palin, and Gov. Tim Pawlenty (MN) — have raised millions of dollars in political action committee accounts “that allow them to get around federal campaign laws that limit presidential fundraising”:

By law, presidential contenders cannot collect money for the race until they establish an exploratory or a presidential fundraising committee. [...]

Campaign-finance watchdogs, such as Paul Ryan of the Campaign Legal Center, say the activity skirts the intent of presidential fundraising accounts, which have stricter contribution limits. Individuals can donate up to $10,000 over a two-year election cycle to a federal PAC, but no more than $4,800 to a presidential campaign. … “Contribution limits exist to reduce the threat of corruption,” Ryan said. “These slush funds that potential presidential candidates are setting up violate at the very least the spirit of those … limits.”

A USA Today analysis found that only 10 percent of the PAC funds raised by the 6 potential candidates were spent on federal candidates and committees through Nov. 22. While a Romney spokesperson said the former Massachusetts governor’s PACs “were formed to help elect Republican candidates and promote conservative principles,” they have spent only 14 percent of their funds for those purposes. Moreover, Romney and Barbour “have created fundraising accounts in states that allow their PACs to receive corporate donations. Federal law bars corporations from giving directly to presidential and congressional candidates.”

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