DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican Jeb Bush may reshape the traditional presidential campaign with his plan to turn over some functions to a super PAC.
A POLITICAL EXPERIMENT
Bush's team is preparing to give responsibility for much of the nuts-and-bolts work of running a presidential race to his super PAC, Right to Rise. While exact details are still under discussion, the strategy calls for delegating the vast majority of television advertising, direct mail advertising and even getting-out-the-vote operations from Bush's own campaign to the super PAC.
This means, Bush's team believes, it is possible a super PAC created to support a single candidate will for the first time spend more than the candidate's campaign itself — at least through the primaries.
IS IT LEGAL?
The strategy stems from a pair of 2010 Supreme Court decisions that created super PACs. Super PACs can legally raise unlimited money, but they are barred from coordinating their actions with a candidate or campaign. Bush's advisers say they plan to take full advantage of the law, which critics — who want tighter regulation of money and politics — say he's already breaking.
Bush has spent the past several months raising tens of millions of dollars for Right to Rise, and working closely with top advisers Mike Murphy, Sally Bradshaw and David Kochel. Murphy is deeply involved in Bush's planning for 2016, including courting donors, selecting staff and developing strategy. The idea is that once Bush launches his campaign, Murphy, as expected leader of the super PAC, will have spent enough time working with Bradshaw and Kochel so that the campaign and super PAC will move in sync without the need to coordinate.
JUST A SUPER PAC?
In addition to Right to Rise super PAC, Bush may be aided by the similarly named policy group Right to Rise Solutions, organized under the tax code as a 501(c)4 group, which allows unlimited contributions from unidentified donors.
The group was established by former Bush aide Bill Simon of Arkansas to promote "optimistic, forward-looking policies based on conservative principles," Simon said. Presumably, those principles will align closely with Bush's.
One campaign finance advocate calls Bush's plans "an epic national scandal." But former Federal Election Commission member Scott Thomas says it's not likely the FEC or the Justice Department will challenge Bush's strategy. "You'd have to show a true smoking gun, showing the candidate controlling the campaign and the super PAC."