Departing White House counsel Robert Bauer is returning to the election law practice he built at Perkins Coie, where his once and future colleagues have been active on behalf of a pair of Super PACs. The firm recently asked the Federal Election Commission to rule on whether politicians can raise unlimited sums from any source for "independent expenditure-only" groups.
As the Reporting Group previously reported, Perkins Coie filed an advisory opinion request with the FEC on behalf of two clients, the Majority PAC (formerly known as CommonSense Ten) and the House Majority PAC, asking whether candidates for federal office can solicit donors for them. Majority PAC and House Majority PAC are both independent expenditure-only committees, or Super PACs, that can accept corporate and union funds in unlimited amounts. Candidates for federal office cannot accept donations from corporations or labor unions for their own campaigns, and under McCain Feingold, were not allowed to raise prohibited funds for other entities.
James Bopp Jr., an attorney who represented Citizens United and has been involved in a number of other legal challenges to campaign finance laws, recently helped form a group, the Republican Super PAC, that plans to use federal and state candidates, as well as Republican party officials, to raise money for it.
Perkins Coie asked the FEC to rule on the legality of Bopp's scheme on behalf of its clients, which intend to raise unlimited sums of money from any source to elect Democratic candidates. FEC rules do not permit organizations to make advisory opinion requests to answer purely hypothetical questions.
Marc Elias, Bauer's successor as head of the Perkins Coie election law group, was the lead attorney on the request for the Super PACs.
When he returns to Perkins Coie, Bauer's clients will include President Barack Obama's reelection campaign and the Democratic National Committee.