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Both Trump and Clinton have made fixing our “rigged” or broken political system a key talking point of their campaigns to rally supporters. But our complaints present clear evidence that the campaigns are ignoring current law by coordinating with their super PACS. No other presidential candidates have previously defied anti-coordination laws in this way.
About Our Complaints:
Correct the Record: The Clinton-supporting super PAC, Correct the Record, asserts it can coordinate directly with the Clinton campaign as long as it doesn’t run paid advertising. Clinton’s attorneys are relying on a narrow 2006 FEC regulation that declared that content posted online for free, such as blogs written by unpaid volunteers, is off limits from regulation. But Correct the Record is not a volunteer blogging operation. It is a $6 million professional opposition research, surrogate training and messaging operation staffed with paid professional employees and operating out of a high-rise Washington, D.C. office building. Because Correct the Record is effectively an arm of the Clinton campaign, million-dollar-plus contributions to the super PAC are indistinguishable from contributions directly to Clinton – and pose the same risk of corruption.
Rebuilding America Now: Two of Trump’s senior staffers formed the Rebuilding America Now super PAC almost immediately after leaving the campaign – in violation of FEC rules requiring a 120-day “cooling off” period, which are intended to keep former staffers from using their knowledge of a campaign’s strategy and needs to develop ads for an “independent” group. The former Trump staffers make the legally baseless claim they can ignore the 120-day rule because they weren’t paid by the campaign, an extraordinary assertion that undermines the rule’s anti-coordination purpose.
Make America Number 1: Trump supporting-super PAC, Make America Number 1, is also intertwined with the Trump campaign. Trump’s campaign manager and deputy campaign manager are both former presidents of the super PAC – and reportedly were hired at the behest of Make America Number 1’s chair, Rebekah Mercer. What’s more, both the Trump campaign and the super PAC use the same data analytics firm – owned by the Mercer family – to target voters and develop ad content. The Mercer family, which has poured millions into Make America Number 1, appears to have a level of influence over the campaign commensurate with having made millions in contributions directly to Trump. This may not be surprising, since as the Supreme Court has noted, coordinated expenditures “will be as useful to the candidate as cash.” Given the close relationship between Make America Number 1 and the Trump campaign, the Mercers’ millions in contributions to Make America Number 1 raise the same concerns about corruption and improper commitments as if the Mercers had donated directly to the campaign.