A Super PAC formed by campaign finance law challenger and Indiana attorney James Bopp Jr. intends to harness the fundraising efforts of Republican Party committees and candidates to raise unlimited contributions from individuals and corporations to be spent influencing elections in the 2012 campaign.
The concept behind Republican Super PAC, which will be introduced to party officials at a Republican National Committee meeting in Dallas this Wednesday, is for G.O.P. candidates and party officials at the national, state and local levels to steer contributions that they can't accept under federal or state election law to the newly formed Republican Super PAC.
Federal political parties, like the RNC or the Democratic National Committee, can only accept limited funds from individuals ($30,800 per calendar year) and political action committees that do not take unlimited contributions from any source ($15,000); federal candidates and PACs that contribute to them face similar, lower limits on the contributions they can receive from individuals.
Following Supreme Court rulings in the SpeechNow and Citizens United cases, the Federal Election Commission began registering independent expenditure-only committees, which can accept unlimited funds from any source--including corporations and labor unions--provided that they don't contribute to federal candidates or party committees or coordinate with their campaigns. In the 2010 election, those committees spent more than $60.7 million influencing federal elections in the 2010 election cycle.
The invitation to the Republican Super PAC sales pitch in Dallas says that the group "is designed to give national and state Republican political party committees and local, state and, federal Republican candidates the ability to raise unlimited individual and corporate contributions for independent expenditures in support of federal and state candidates." It will do so by asking candidates and party committees to "solicit and direct federal and state contributions from donors, above the current state and federal contribution and source limitations, to RSPAC as earmarked funds for independent expenditures supporting or opposing specifically designated federal and/or state candidates or candidates."
Bopp told the Sunlight Foundation Reporting Group that while the Republican Super PAC will differ from others in its direct appeal for fundraising help from federal candidates and committees, it won't run afoul of current election law. "There’s no coordination issue," he said. "What you can’t coordinate is the expenditure of funds. We don’t coordinate the spending with anyone."
Under the plan, donors, and not the candidates or party committees that solicited them, would earmark the funds to support or oppose specific candidates. The Super PAC would spend the money in those races by itself. "We’re not going to talk to [candidates who solicit funds for Republican Super PAC] in any way," Bopp said.
The invitation to the Dallas event, where Bopp hopes the state-level officials can be persuaded find contributors for the group, notes that "RSPAC's personnel would be firewalled off from appropriate political parties and candidates, and their agents, to prevent coordination and other legal concerns," and also says that the organization "would coordinate spending with other independent spenders to bridge gaps in the independent campaigns supporting Republican candidates."
Bopp said the group, formed under section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, will report donors to the FEC. It will also establish state level independent expenditure-only committees.