Campaign Finance

Idiotic Campaign Finance Rule May Make You Feel Sorry for Rick Santorum

It's against the law to tell donors about certain perfectly legal donations to super PACs

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Now that's some frothy shit right there.
Credit: Gage Skidmore / Foter / CC BY-SA

So here's a campaign donation regulation about which I was unaware and cannot possibly withstand a First Amendment constitutional challenge. Apparently, it is against the law for a candidate for office to suggest a donor give money to a friendly political action committee of a value that is greater than the donor could directly give the candidate. A donor can legally give more money to a PAC or a super PAC than he or she gives a candidate. But the candidate is not allowed to say so to the donor. Somebody on Rick Santorum's staff may have broken this rule, according to a complaint. Via the Washington Post:

A campaign finance watchdog has filed a complaint against former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, referring to reports that Santorum or his campaign may have illegally urged a donor to donate $1 million to a super PAC supporting Santorum.

The donor, energy executive William Dore, in a recent interview said he approached Santorum about giving his campaign $1 million. He initially said Santorum urged him to instead give the money to the super PAC, Red White and Blue Fund, which can accept unlimited donations. Santorum's campaign is subject to much lower contribution limits and could not accept such a donation.

Dore later recanted, saying it was Santorum's staff who directed him to give to the super PAC.

The Campaign Legal Center, in its complaint, notes that campaign finance law allows candidates to solicit donations to super PACs, but those solicitations are subject to the same contribution limits as their campaigns. So while Santorum's campaign could tell Dore to contribute a maximum of $5,000 to the super PAC, it cannot urge him to donate $1 million to it.

This is patently absurd censorship.