Today, on April Fools’ Eve, Democracy 21 joined the Campaign Legal Center in filing complaints with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) against Jeb Bush, Martin O’Malley, Rick Santorum and Scott Walker claiming reason to believe they are violating federal campaign finance laws.

According to Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer:

Major presidential candidates have been engaged in a charade that fools nobody. While they travel around and act like candidates, talk like candidates, fundraise like candidates and build presidential campaign organizations like candidates, they have pretended not to be candidates.  Indeed, they claim they are not even testing the waters to decide whether to become candidates.  This is absurd.

Ask 100 ordinary Americans if these individuals are presidential candidates and 100 ordinary Americans will answer of course they are candidates.  Just who do these candidates think they are kidding. The reason they are making these outlandish claims is so they can evade and circumvent the nation’s campaign finance laws, enacted to prevent corruption and protect the interests of the American people. These candidates are counting on the FEC failing to enforce the campaign finance laws. But the FEC should for once just do its job and not let presidential candidates mock the laws and the American people.

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.

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.

The four individuals named in complaints today are not alone in the 2016 field in violating federal campaign finance laws. There are a number of additional White House hopefuls who appear to be in violation of the same campaign finance laws and more complaints will be forthcoming.  So far only Ted Cruz has officially announced his candidacy.  Hillary Clinton, Ben Carson, Lindsey Graham and Jim Webb have acknowledged that they are officially “testing the waters” and appear to be complying with federal law requirements; in the event they chose to run for president, we will examine their first campaign disclosure report to verify compliance with federal law “testing the waters” requirements.

To read the complaint against Jeb Bush, click here.

To read the complaint against Martin O’Malley, click here.

To read the complaint against Rick Santorum, click here.

To read the complaint against Scott Walker, click here.


Attachments: (4 total)