Open Secrets: Seven years later: Blurred boundaries, more money

Emily Dalgo and Ashley Balcerzak
Jan 19, 2017
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Since the inception of the supposedly independent super PACs, political operatives that run them and campaigns have been edging ever more closely together,” said Brendan Fischer of the Campaign Legal Center, which filed multiple complaints this year dealing with coordination laws. “You saw this on full display” in the 2016 cycle, he noted.

Fischer named two cases in particular: Pro-Trump super PAC Rebuilding America Now was formed by two former Trump campaign staffers who argued the former employee rule didn’t apply because they weren’t paid by the Trump campaign. (Campaign staffers are required to wait for 120 days before going to work for a super PAC supporting that campaign, to keep the two groups independent.)

On the other side, a pro-Hillary Clinton super PAC run by liberal political operative David Brock, Correct the Recordasserted it could legally coordinate with the Clinton campaign as long as it stuck to internet communications and didn’t pay for TV or radio ads.

“They are pioneers in a certain sense,” Fischer said. “There is every reason to believe [other] super PACs will follow the path laid down by these super PACs and will seek to exploit the same loopholes that they asserted. The wall between super PACs and campaigns is crumbling and will continue to crumble.”

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