Jeb Bush, Others In Trouble Over Reported Illegal Campaign Activity

By , Addicting Info

On March 31, the Campaign Legal Center filed formal complaints alleging illegal campaign activity against Republicans Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Rick Santorum. Democrat Martin O’Malley is also accused of similar illegal campaign and fundraising activity.

According to federal election laws, a candidate who is “testing the waters” in a presidential run must report campaign activities and abide by campaign finance laws. Thus far, however, only one candidate has officially declared his intent to run for office – Ted Cruz. Four other candidates, including Hillary Clinton, have officially registered with the FEC as candidates who are “testing the waters”

Jeb Bush, Walker, and Santorum, along with O’Malley, have neither formally declared their intention to run, nor have they registered as potential candidates who are “testing the waters.” Yet all of these candidates are gallivanting around the country, raising unlimited amounts of cash for a presidential campaign, in apparent violation of federal law.

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Jeb Bush, whose name appears on every poll as the most likely to become the Republican presidential nominee, admitted publicly in December of 2014 that he is ‘openly exploring’ a presidential campaign. Fox News reported Bush’s intention to launch a “new political operation allowing him to raise money for like-minded politicians,” at that time.

During an interview with Fox on December 16, 2014, Wall Street Journal Executive Editor, Jerry Seib, explained some of the legalities involved running a presidential campaign, including the need to form an “exploratory committee” and keep careful records of all contributions coming in and expenses going out.

In spite of openly declaring his intention to explore a presidential run over a year and a half ago, and in spite of openly fundraising and courting donors for a presidential campaign, he never registered with the FEC as a formal candidate or a candidate who is “testing the waters.”

Bush has been openly campaigning for months, travelling around the country, hiring campaign staff, meeting and greeting donors and potential donors. He formed two PAC’s in January, and set a fundraising goal of $100 million for the first three months of 2015. He has done all of this, apparently, in clear violation of the law.

And he’s not alone in his illegal campaign activities. In January Scott Walker announced that he had formed his own 527 political organization, called Our American Revival. He admitted that it was created to raise money for his presidential campaign and actively taking contributions. The organization began releasing ads for Walker in January.

Walker also opened a campaign office in Iowa, in January. These activities cost money, money which he has been collecting for months, if not years. Read the full complaint against Walker here.

Then there’s Rick Santorum, who also has not registered with the FEC, but who also began meeting with campaign advisers, travelling around the country, and clearly engaging in campaign activities and soliciting donations for a presidential campaign months ago. Read the full complaint against Santorum here.

Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who has announced his intention to challenge Hillary Clinton in 2016, has also been collecting contributions and engaging in campaign activities for months. O’Malley’s PAC, O Say Can You See, has been operating outside of campaign donation limits since 2014. Read the full complaint against Martin O’Malley here.

The Campaign Legal Center Senor Council, Paul S. Ryan said in a statement published to the organization’s website:

“These 2016 presidential contenders must take the American people for fools — flying repeatedly to Iowa and New Hampshire to meet with party leaders and voters, hiring campaign staff, and raising millions of dollars from deep-pocketed mega donors, all the while denying that they are even ‘testing the waters’ of a presidential campaign. But federal campaign finance law is no joke and the candidate contribution limits kick in as soon as a person begins raising and spending money to determine whether they’re going to run for office. Bush, O’Malley, Santorum and Walker appear to be violating federal law.”

The four complaints filed today document in detail the political activities of each of these presidential aspirants: traveling extensively to early primary/caucus states, battleground states and fundraising hotspots; building campaign infrastructures; fundraising to pay for these activities and to bankroll a formal presidential campaign. These activities constitute “testing the waters” under federal law and must be paid for with funds raised under the federal candidate contribution limits and restrictions (no more than $2,700 per individual donor, no corporate/union funds). Bush, O’Malley, Santorum and Walker are all raising funds above the $2,700 candidate limit, providing reason to believe they are violating federal law.

In addition, Ryan goes on to say that:

The complaints further allege that Bush, Santorum and Walker have actually crossed the threshold to become “candidates” as defined in federal law, by referring to themselves publicly as candidates and/or by amassing campaign funds that will be spent after they formally declare their candidacies. Consequently, they are currently violating candidate registration and reporting requirements, contribution limits and restrictions, as well as federal “soft money” prohibitions.

Read the full FEC complaint against Jeb Bush here.

Reprinted with permission from Addicting Info.

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