New reporting from the Washington Post today explores potential coordination between Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and a super PAC that can take in unlimited donations from the types of wealthy special interests Trump has spent his campaign lambasting.
Here’s the lowdown: Trump has criticized the rest of the Republican field for cozying up to the wealthy donors that fund their campaigns; in contrast, he states his own personal wealth means he’s above this kind of influence-peddling. But Trump has appeared at two separate fundraising events for the Make America Great Again PAC, which has several ties to the official campaign through Trump’s family, former employees, and former campaign staffers. According to sources, the PAC was established in early spring as Trump prepared to enter the presidential race, and operates with his blessing. The Trump campaign would not go on record for the story.
The logic behind the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which helped create super PACs, was that independent expenditure groups like Make American Great Again PAC could not be seen as corrupting as long as they were truly independent of candidates’ campaigns. But many politicians running for federal office now have personal super PACs raising and spending unlimited amounts, often staffed by close advisers, funded by the same donors and relied on to perform key campaign functions like get-out-the-vote efforts and public opinion polling. This blatant rule-bending is certainly not what the Court intended, and may in fact be illegal. Unfortunately, gridlock at the Federal Election Commission has prevented much of a crackdown on coordination between campaigns and super PACs.
That’s why California’s new anti-coordination laws so groundbreaking: the burden of proof is now on candidates, not enforcement agencies, to demonstrate compliance with the law. These tough regulations ensure campaigns truly follow the law as written, and give Californians the confidence that everyone is playing by the same common-sense rules. You can read more about their new rules here.