Thanks to a Supreme Court decision made recently, MONEY will most likely be the determining factor in which politician gets the nod. Now, all it will take is a bottomless pocket of cash and even the unlikeliest of presidential hopefuls will stand a chance of becoming Commander-in-Chief. The new decision on campaign finance reform has many advocates reeling, calling it ‘messy’ and bordering on corrupt. Is Tammany Hall still alive and well, working to influence voter decisions through graft, corruption and money?
The answer to that question may be yes, as we watch possible presidential hopefuls such as former Governor Jeb Bush taking things to new heights, by putting off his official entry into the 2016 race to raise more money for a new “super” PAC that’s supposed to be independent of his ‘all but certain’ campaign.
The 2016 Republican ticket is already filling up fast as Senators Ted Cruz-Texas, Marco Rubio-Florida and Rand Paul-Kentucky are already in. Announcements are expected soon, by former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina as well as retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson and former Governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee. Although early GOP frontrunner Jeb Bush is still missing from that list, as he says; “I’m still exploring the idea” of a presidential bid. What is he waiting on?
We can take it at face value, and say he’s just not sure about the whole thing, or we can look at what appears obvious to many political pundits across the country. Bush’s indecision on his intentions allows him to disregard the money rules of presidential campaigns (cap of primary donations is set at $2,700 per individual) while continuing to raise unlimited funds for his Right to Rise super PAC instead. A super PAC, which came to life after the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, allows unlimited donations from wealthy individuals and corporations. Their only rule is: they must operate independently of a candidate’s ‘official” campaign operations.
The word ‘candidate’ is the keyword here, since Bush hasn’t yet announced his run, he can exploit this loophole and continue to solicit funding for his own super PAC. Of course I’m not saying he is doing this, but it certainly seems possible as we look at some statistics from sunlight Foundation, a non-partisan group advocating for government transparency. They have stated that since January, Bush has headlined at least 47 appearances, many of which were fundraisers for Right to Rise. He has been heard bragging about raising more money (estimated to be as much as $100M) than anyone else in his party.
Whether he is legitimately exploiting the “rules” or just being fickle on announcing his decision to run, he is able to continue doing exactly what he’s been doing. “But until he says the magic words ‘I’m running for president,’ he can raise as much money as he wants,” said Bill Allison, Sunlight Foundation. “He’s really using the super PAC like we’ve never seen before.”
Although, if he does throw his “hat in the ring” he will be held to the strict campaign rules like everyone else, but until that time he can continuing soliciting the big bucks in hopes of having this super PAC cover the costs of the more expensive means of advertising, such as television commercials and direct mailing. Since the Bush camp has been silent on these types of allegations, there is no way to really tell if this ‘dragging of feet’ is specifically designed to manipulate the system or is simply just indecision, but either way the table is being set and what’s for dinner has yet to be announced.
There are always ways to exploit the political arena and the rules that surround it, even in recent years as candidates score billionaire donors able to pave the way with gold as seen with people like Gingrich, Adelson, Friess or Santorum, keeping them in the race much longer than would have previously been possible. Tammany Hall may not be making a resurface like a specter from a more corrupt place and time, but then again… maybe it never really died at all.